The cost of the iPhone in France is said to have "plummeted" of late with the handset price tag of an iPhone 3GS 16GB on an Orange contract cut from 149 euros to 59 euros.

The move is not Christmas goodwill from the operator, but as a result of increased competition in the country following a recent court decision to force Apple and Orange to end their exclusive iPhone deal, meaning other operators may now offer the handset.

SFR and Bouygues Telecom, the operator that took the case to the Competition Council, are now offering the Apple mobile, forcing Orange to drop its prices. An iPhone 3G 8GB now costs as little as 19 euros (about £17) on the equivalent of a £35 a month contract from Orange.

Here in the UK Orange began offering the iPhone in November, ending O2's exclusive deal with Apple. Here consumers can get the iPhone 3G 8GB on Orange for free on £30 per month, 2-year contracts but the price war between O2, Orange (and come January - Vodafone) that was hoped for has not happened.

Meanwhile, the iPhone has been named the most popular handset in the States for most of the last year according to Nielsen stats.

It seems the handset racked up a 4% "embedded base of all subscribers", just pipping the BlackBerry 8300 series at 3.7%. While as far as manufacturers go, LG and RIM enjoy a higher market percentage overall, it's the iPhone that nabs the most popular handset crown.