In continuing with the iPhone 3G’s global expansion, Apple has officially inked a deal with Thailand’s third largest mobile carrier, True Move, to bring the device to the South Pacific country.
Reuters reports that the deal will make True Move the first mobile operator to offer the device in Thailand. Rival carrier, Advanced Info Service, is still in talks with Apple to have their crack at carrying the iPhone 3G for the fast-growing Thai market. While Thailand is still in the testing stages of a 3G network, iPhone 3G owners will still be able to connect to the web via the existing EDGE and GPRS networks.
In a recent statement, a company spokesperson has noted, “True Move has signed an agreement with Apple to bring the iPhone 3G to Thailand in the coming months,” despite not having given a specific date. A senior official at parent company True Corp, who holds a 75.26 percent stake in True Move, followed up by stating, “True Move would work with Apple on the launch of the sleek smartphone, which offers faster Internet access and improved email features.”
While True Move is set to be the first carrier to officially, and legally offer the iPhone 3G, a user could take a stroll into Bangkok’s MBK centre and pick up a smuggled device with ease. It’s estimated that there are already over 100,000 iPhone users in Thailand, including both first generation and 3G models. To get their hands on one of these hot 3Gs from the states, it usually runs about 29,500 baht or the equivalent of around $842.
As always, for a comprehensive look at the iPhone 3G’s global footprint, check out our dynamic iPhone carrier worldmap.
By Khettiya Jittapong
BANGKOK, Nov 13 (Reuters) – Thailand’s third-largest mobile phone firm, True Move, said on Thursday it had signed a deal with Apple Inc (AAPL.O: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) to sell the 3G iPhone in Thailand.
The deal could make True Move, a subsidiary of True Corp TRUE.BK, the first operator to sell the new phone in the fast-growing Thai market. Bigger rival Advanced Info Service ADVA.BK says it is still talking with Apple about iPhone.
“True Move has signed an agreement with Apple to bring the iPhone 3G to Thailand in the coming months,” True Move said in a statement. It gave no precise date.
A senior official at True Corp, which owns 75.26 percent of True Move, said True Move would work with Apple on the launch of the sleek smartphone, which offers faster Internet access and improved email features.
Thailand is still in the testing stage for 3G networks, but 3G iPhone users can surf the Internet via existing EDGE or GPRS networks, a 2.5 generation mobile technology.
Apple rolled out the iPhone in more than 20 countries in July and has set a target of selling 10 million iPhones this year.
Thailand’s largest mobile phone operator, Advanced Info Service (AIS) ADVA.BK, said the Apple deal with True Move was not exclusive.
“Apple is talking with every operator, including us and DTAC. When will we sell iPhone? It depends on when we can reach a deal with Apple on terms and conditions,” Somchai Lertsuttiwong, AIS’s executive vice president for marketing, told Reuters.
In fact, the new 3G iPhone can already be had in Bangkok’s MBK centre, a treasure trove of pirated luxury goods. It is estimated that Thailand already has more than 100,000 iPhone users, if you include an earlier version that does not have 3G.
A 3G iPhone smuggled from the United States costs around 29,500 baht ($842). One from Hong Kong costs about 35,000 baht since it offers an easier way to insert the SIM card.
AIS has 26.8 million subscribers, around 50 percent of the Thai cellular phone market, while True Move has more than 13 million. Second-ranked Total Access Communication (DTAC) DTAC.BK (TACC.SI: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) has more than 18 million users.
AIS, an affiliate of Singapore Telecommunications (STEL.SI: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz), said it expected the Thai mobile phone market to grow 15-20 percent this year, which would mean about 93-96 percent of the population could have a SIM card.
But actual mobile users are estimated at about 65-70 percent because many users own more than one SIM card, it said. ($1 = 35.05 Baht) (Editing by Alan Raybould)
Even though iPhone firmware 2.0 have been released just last week Apple wastes no time. According to their weblogs, Apple is testing iPhone firmware 2.0.1, with builds 5B101 (iPhone) and 5B103 (iPhone 3G).