Orange, Apple's French iPhone network partner, hopes to sell nearly 100,000 iPhones by the end of the year.

Chief executive Didier Lombard promoted the bullish forecast in an interview with Europe 1 radio this morning. "The target is a little under 100,000 sold by the end of the year," he said.

Lombard also confirmed the unlocked version of the iPhone Orange must sell in France under local consumer protection laws will be set "significantly lower" than the €999 charged in Germany by T-Mobile.

The iPhone goes on sale in France on Wednesday evening. Full details on tariffs and price will be published tomorrow morning, but the iPhone's starting price will be €399 (£286), Lombard said.

Users can expect two hours of voice calls and a measly 50 text messages within their 24-month €49/month contract, he revealed. Unlike O2, Orange will also offer a 12-month contract for the device.