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T-Mobile Can Keep iPhone Exclusive, German Court Rules

German consumers eager to obtain an unlocked phone can still go to bordering France and purchase an iPhone from France Telecom's Orange service provider.

Deutsche Telekom's T-Mobile unit is back offering locked iPhones on an exclusive contract basis Tuesday after a German court dismissed an earlier injunction of two weeks ago that led to a brief period in which the mobile phone was offered on a standalone basis.

DT said it will now offer iPhones with contracts exclusively. During the period the injunction was in effect, T-Mobile, the largest mobile phone service provider in Germany, offered unlocked iPhones for $1,481, a price high enough to discourage sales.

The injunction had been sought by Vodafone, the second-largest mobile phone service provider in Germany.

At the conclusion of a two-year contact, iPhone owners in Germany will be free to unlock their phones.

German consumers eager to obtain an unlocked phone, however, still have an option -- they can go to bordering France and purchase an iPhone from France Telecom's Orange service provider for $964. Telecommunications regulations vary from country to country in Europe and French regulations paved the way for Orange to offer unlocked iPhones.

Orange began selling its iPhone in France last week and in addition to two-year contracts it has shorter plans, including some that permit a purchaser of the mobile phone to unlock the phone after a shorter time period. The fact that Apple's Steve Jobs presided over iPhone media extravaganzas in Germany and the U.K., but boycotted the iPhone introduction in France, hasn't been lost to observers. Orange's break in Apple's exclusive iPhone-contract appears to be the first leak in the Apple iPhone business model.

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