( AFP ) - The Apple iPhone handset, incorporating mobile phone, multimedia access and music functions, was to go on sale in France with a promotional blitz late on Wednesday, following European launches in Britain and Germany.
Apple hopes that global sales from the initial launch in the United States in June to the end of next year will total 10 million units.
Orange, the mobile phone and Internet arm of France Telecom has obtained exclusive rights to sell the so-called "smartphone" in France. It said on Wednesday that the headline launch price would be 749 euros (505 dollars) when the device first goes on sale late on Wednesday through 12 outlets before a full launch on Thursday.
Orange says that more than 50,000 people in France have already placed orders for the iPhone, which comes with a base cost of 649 euros plus a charge of 100 euros for access to other mobile phone networks.
Existing customers of Orange who do not want wider access will be able to buy the device for 549 euros, or for 399 euros with a user subscription through Orange.
However, the phone is already on sale at lower prices via several French Internet sites despite the threat of legal action by Orange.
The iPhone was first launched in the United States on June 29, with three-month sales running at 1.4 million units.