updated 06:20 pm EST, Tue December 29, 2009
As many as 2m iPhones in France for 2009
The iPhone is already the fourth most popular phone make in France with just two years on shelves, according to data from GfK. Estimates from the analyst group say Apple will have shipped between 1.8 million and 2 million iPhones to France by the end of the year, or 8.5 percent of all phones delivered to the country. It would be eclipsed only Samsung, Nokia and LG, all three of whom are more established and sell many more models.
The device actually led outright when considered in other categories. "More than half" of the 3.5 million smartphones shipping to France this year should be iPhone variant, while Apple should account for about 20 percent of the entire cellphone market's revenue. The company's popularity will have helped smartphones as a whole more than double their share of France from 7 percent in 2008 to 16 percent this year.
GfK credits the rise to the iPhone's ease of use and its becoming a benchmark for others to imitate, but also to the legally forced opening up of iPhone sales to all willing carriers in the European nation. While Orange will still have represented the largest portion of sales with about 1.3 million iPhones shipped, iPhone sales have roughly doubled since every major French carrier had access to the smartphone in May. SFR claims to have sold 500,000 iPhones between late April and the end of October alone, while Bouygues Telecom managed 330,000 units by the end of November.
The analyst forecasts are also potentially pessimistic as they don't include last-minute price cuts at the carriers that have brought the price of an iPhone 3GS to as low as 59 euros ($85) on contract and the older iPhone 3G to 29 euros ($42), further lowering the barriers to entry. None of the French carriers will publicly disclose their most recent sales figures.
In the US, the iPhone has usually been outsold by BlackBerries in the smartphone category and garnered a smaller piece of the total phone market, owing both of these results partly to AT&T's ongoing exclusivity deal with Apple. RIM not only sells multiple models that in some cases are free on contract but often supplies similar models to all four major and numerous minor carriers, guaranteeing maximum exposure. AT&T's deal is rumored to end as soon as mid-2010.