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Will an upstart French mobile carrier best Apple, and the market?

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Like millions of other people in France, I recently made the move over to Free Mobile. Free was already known and loved by customers for offering internet services that scrapped the long term contracts and allowed customers to buy month to month. They also helped drive down the price which is now highly competitive in France.

Since Free moved into the mobile market, they have been flooded with new customers who have scrapped the €70 per month subscription rate for the €16 or €20 rate. (It's €16 if you are a Free internet customer, €20 if you are not.) Even with some temporary hiccups to the service - mainly network stress in the early evening hours - it's a no-brainer to move over to Free.

Forbes has an interesting read about Free Mobile and its potential impact on the iPhone market. The theory is that without the subsidized pricing for the iPhone, Apple may lose market share to Android or Windows phones as customers jump on the low monthly price and cheaper phones. The iPhone sold by Free Mobile starts at €479 and goes up to €785. Meanwhile, there are plenty of cheaper mobile phone options that aren't iPhones and really, they're not that bad.

Will this model model move to other countries and will customers choose other phones that are cheaper? I've used a Windows phone and while it's not as nice, it's decent enough for most people and it's a lot less expensive. The main problem today is the limited number of apps compared to the iPhone. Personally I can deal with that if I'm saving this much money both upfront on the phone and over time with this new service.

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