Apple has told its UK iPhone partners not to report iPhone sales, as rumour claims price-conscious Brits have been slow to buy the device.

This news emerges as it is also revealed that Google CEO and Apple board member Eric Schmidt will not discuss mobile phones during Apple board meetings, recusing himself from such discussion on account of his company's own interests in the space.

According to the Mail on Sunday, industry insiders claim there is "evidence" that UK consumers have resisted buying an iPhone, particularly outside London. Apple has asked its partners here - O2 and Carphone Warehouse - not to report actual sales figures as a result.

The report describes Christmas sales of the £269 device as a "disappointment", and states Apple CEO Steve Jobs to be likely to reveal European sales of the device during his Macworld Expo keynote, but warns he may not offer a specific per-country breakdown of sales.

Mail on Sunday also claims shops visited by its staff have confirmed slow sales of the device, with shop staff directing prospective customers toward free phones and better contracts.