Company News

Thai TAC raises iPhone sales target after launch

BANGKOK, March 15 (Reuters) - Total Access Communication (TAC) DTAC.BK, Thailand's second-largest mobile phone operator, has nearly doubled its sales target for Apple Inc AAPL.O iPhones after a successful launch at the weekend.

TAC now expected to sell 190,000 iPhones in the year after launch, up from its earlier forecast of 100,000, Chief Operating Officer Thana Thienachariya told Reuters on Monday.

The iPhones are seen as a key product for boosting revenue from non-voice services, which have seen stronger growth than voice revenue in a saturated market where almost everyone has a mobile phone.

Non-voice services should contribute about 30 percent of TAC’s revenue this year, up from 27 percent last year, Thana said.

TAC, controlled by Norway's Telenor TEL.OL, has sold 1,700 iPhones since Saturday's launch. It is the second operator to offer the iPhone in Thailand. It launched Blackberry in December.

TAC's smaller rival, True Move PCL, a unit of True Corp TRUE.BK, was the first company to launch the 3G iPhone in the country in January 2009.

True has said it sold about 100,000 iPhones in 2009 and aimed to sell another 120,000 this year. The phones have also been sold through unofficial outlets.

TAC has said it expected the Thai market to grow by 3-4 million net new subscribers in 2010 and the company aimed for revenue growth of 7-9 percent.

Operators are banking on the launch of smartphones such as iPhone and Research In Motion's RIM.TORIMM.O BlackBerry to boost revenue from non-voice services as clients go online and download music or other data via mobile phones.

With repeated delays in the auction of licences for third-generation (3G) mobile services in Thailand, operators are focusing on boosting mobile data as revenue from voice services should be flat.

Smartphone penetration in Thailand is expected to reach 12.9 percent of mobile subscribers by 2015 from about 10.5 percent at the end of 2009, Credit Suisse said in a note.

At the midday break, TAC shares were up 0.7 percent at 35 baht, outperforming a 0.3 percent fall in market leader Advanced Info Service ADVA.BK. True Corp shares rose 0.7 percent, while the overall market was 0.3 percent higher. ($1 = 32.55 Baht) (Reporting by Pisit Changplayngam; Writing by Khettiya Jittapong; Editing by Alan Raybould)