Fr Telecom sees near 100,000 iPhone sales by year end

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PARIS, Nov 27 (Reuters) France Telecom's Orange unit expects to sell nearly 100,000 Apple Inc iPhones by the end of 2007, France Telecom said on Tuesday as the third leg approaches of a closely watched European launch.

The iPhone, with its touch screen, music player and Internet browser, goes on sale in France on Wednesday, almost three weeks after its British and German debuts, amid investor scrutiny of a contract model that is untested in mainland Europe.

French competitors Vivendi's SFR and Bouygues Telecom have prepared a hostile reception committee, this month launching offerings including 3G+ access -- a service Orange's iPhone contract does not provide.

But Apple is betting the cult status of the device will be enough to persuade people to buy the iPhone despite the fact that it is both unsubsidised and tied to contracts with operators who have exclusive Apple deals.

In the United States, Apple sold 1.1 million iPhones in the quarter to end-September for up to

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