France Telecom (FT) chief executive officer Didier Lombard expects his company to sell between 400,000 and 500,000 iPhone contracts in France next year. ‘That is the middle of the range of our forecasts,’ Lombard told journalists on the launch of Apple’s iPhone in France last week. The telco is also promising to sell unlocked versions of the handset at a significantly lower price than they cost in either Germany or the UK (currently around USD1,460), Lombard said. Although the CEO stopped short of putting a price on the table, he is currently offering an iPhone with a two-year Orange contract in France for USD65 per month, giving him plenty of manoeuvring room on price for an unlocked version.
In a separate story, Didier Lombard said his firm was looking to double the number of its subscribers in Africa to 50 million by 2010. ‘Africa is to France Telecom what South America is to Telefonica,’ he declared. The Paris-based telecoms heavyweight currently controls or has minority interests in telecoms companies in 13 African countries including Cote d’Ivoire and Senegal. In addition, it recently led a consortium which won a 51% stake in Telkom Kenya and a new telephony and internet licence in Niger. Moreover, it is also thought to be winning the race to acquire a majority stake in Ghanaian incumbent Ghana Telecom.
Nevertheless, it has a long way to go before it can match Telefonica’s achievements on the Latin American continent. The Spanish firm said revenues from the region accounted for 35% of the group’s total in 2006; by the end of September 2007 Africa contributed just 2.8% of FT’s total, up from 1.6% in 2002. According to the Financial Times, Didier Lombard said that, following the current surge in mobile telephone adoption in Africa, he also expected a ‘second wave’ of growth related to ‘the equipping of Africa with the internet’. The French telco is now turning its attention towards the forthcoming privatisation of Algerie Telecom in Algeria where it hopes to work with a partner from the Arab world to secure a stake in the North African firm.