(Adds details, comments from AIS)
By Khettiya Jittapong
BANGKOK Nov 13 Thailand's third-largest mobile
phone firm, True Move, said on Thursday it had signed a deal
with Apple Inc (AAPL.O) 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
Thailand's largest mobile phone operator, Advanced Info
Service (AIS) ADVA.BK, said the Apple deal with True Move was
"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,
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 has more than 18 million users.
AIS, an affiliate of Singapore Telecommunications
(STEL.SI), 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
($1 = 35.05 Baht)
(Editing by Alan Raybould)