America Movil braces for iPhone shortage in Brazil

A sales assistant displays an Apple iPhone 3G during its launch at a SingTel store in Singapore early August 22, 2008. REUTERS/Tim Chong (

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Mexico's America Movil AMXL.MX is set to start selling Apple Inc's AAPL.O iPhone in Brazil on Friday but does not expect to have enough of the hugely popular devices to meet demand, an executive at the company's Brazilian unit said on Thursday.

Claro, America Movil's AMX.N Brazilian unit, received an initial lot of just 30,000 iPhones from Apple. It had hoped to receive a much larger number since more than 100,000 subscribers had already signed up for the phone by late July.

“Demand is very strong. It’s remarkable,” Claro Chief Executive Joao Cox said on a conference call. “We’re expecting a shortage of devices initially.”

Claro plans to sell the iPhones -- touch-screen devices that combine a music and video player with a cellphone and Web browser -- for between 1,000 reais ($549) and 2,600 reais ($1,428), depending on the model and monthly calling plan.

When the new iPhone went on sale in July in the United States, it retailed for as little as $199 for subscribers. Cox said the price disparity was due to state and federal taxes in Brazil.

America Movil, owned by Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim, operates in 16 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean as well as the United States.

Its archrival in Latin America is Spain's Telefonica TEF.MC, whose Brazilian mobile unit Vivo VIVO4.SAVIV.N will also start selling the iPhone on Friday.

($1=1.82 reais)

Reporting by Tais Fuoco, Writing by Todd Benson, editing by Richard Chang