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Optical/IP

Apple Takes Its iPhone Global

Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) has expanded the international availability of the iPhone and reinforced its new carrier partnership strategy, by striking new distribution deals with operators in multiple Asia/Pacific and Latin American markets.

Today, Bharti Airtel Ltd. (Mumbai: BHARTIARTL), SingTel Optus Pty. Ltd. , Singapore Telecommunications Ltd. (SingTel) (OTC: SGTJY), and Globe Telecom announced they will offer the iPhone in India, Australia, Singapore, and the Philippines, respectively, starting later this year. None of the operators gave a specific launch date or stated whether they would offer the 3G version of the device.

And last week, América Móvil S.A. de C.V. announced it will sell Apple's iconic device in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, and Mexico. (See América Móvil Gets iPhone.)

The news follows Unstrung's report last week that the much anticipated 3G iPhone will be available in Italy this summer, and also comes as BlackBerry unveils details of its new 3G BlackBerry. (See RIM Unveils 3G Device, VC Fund and Mamma Mia! Italians Get 3G iPhone .)

Italy is also the market Apple chose to introduce its new non-exclusive partnership strategy, enabling more than one operator to sell the device in the same market. Telecom Italia (TIM) and Vodafone Italy will both sell the iPhone. (See Vodafone to Sell iPhones.)

That new strategy will also prevail in Australia and India, where Optus and Bharti, respectively, will compete with Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD) to sell the iPhone. So far, Australia, India, and Italy are the only markets where Apple has entered into non-exclusive partnership agreements with operators.

Apple's new deals across the Asia/Pacific region also reveal a strong relationship with SingTel that extends beyond the Singaporean incumbent's domestic market -- Australia's Optus is a wholly owned subsidiary of SingTel, which also owns 30.5 percent of India's Bharti Airtel and 44.5 percent of Globe Telecom in the Philippines.

Apple, which has also signed an iPhone distribution deal with Canadian operator Rogers Wireless Communications Inc. (NYSE: RCN; Toronto: RCM), sold 1.7 million of the high ARPU-generating devices in the first three months of 2008. (See The iPhone's Fat ARPU and Apple Sells 1.7M iPhones in Q2.)

— Michelle Donegan, European Editor, Unstrung

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