Although many sites are reporting that the iPhone is coming unlocked in France, quoting an INH article, Apple told us that the piece was based solely off of reading French Law, not from statements by Orange or Apple. The particulars of pricing plans and whether the iPhone will or won't be unlocked is still up in the air, so don't start pulling out your credit cards for a French iPhone just yet. However, because there is such a law that "forbids bundling the sale of a mobile phone and a mobile operator", there still may be hope for an unlocked iPhone. [IHT]
When you consider we are talking about a country that outlaws sale pricing except a few select days a year, it's hard to be surprised. On the other hand, when we're talking about a company as canny as Apple, expect ways around the regulations. For instance, sell the iPhone for €1,200, and Orange offers a €600 rebate with service. Or set up Orange Stores in Apple Stores (oxymoronic?). Orange sells an Orange-branded iPhone (again, oxymoronic?) for €600, while the Apple sells for €1,200. For the phones that aren't Orange, Apple pays them a "marketing support" fee.
Or there's always the possibility (probability?) that Apple simply declares the iPhone a portable computer, with telephony capabilities. So now it's not the phone they're selling, but the computer. They can simply say the phone is actually a wireless modem. Likely a technically accurate statement.
Or they take France to the EU court and tie it up for 2 years until the Orange contracts expire...