France is a lot more, shall we say, friendly to cell phone users in France than other countries are. And on Wednesday the French Competition Council said "non" to the so-far exclusive deal for iPhones that Apple and France Telecom's Orange unit had arranged.
Orange and Apple have had their deal in place for a year, and the company said during that time, Orange has sold over 150,000 iPhones and over 450,000 iPhones 3Gs. Orange plans to appeal the decision to the Court of Appeal in Paris.
Orange had already been required to sell an unlocked iPhone in France (for a fairly exhorbitant price), but this decision opens things up completely.
The Competition Council said the exclusive rights to the iPhone held by Orange "by nature introduces a new factor of rigidity in a sector that already lacks competition."
The Council any operator can now sell the iPhone.
The Competition Council reviewed the Apple / Orange deal following a complaint from Orange's rival Bouyges Telecom SA. The complaint was filed in September this year.
Don't expect this to be the end of the issue, however.
Now if we could get the same thing in America, it would be great (never happen, though).