Philippine auction site to offer iPhone

Auction.ph unveils special program selling Apple iPhone 3G at prices lower than market rates. But, plans are hazy on whether device will remain regular sales item.

PHILIPPINES--Local auction site Auction.ph is planning to make the Apple iPhone 3G available on the Web site, but issues such as product sourcing and potential carrier partnerships, remain hazy.

In a press briefing Friday, Auction.ph--one of the country's pioneering auction sites--unveiled a special program to put the new iPhone for sale on an online auction.

"It is a promo for our loyal users and online merchandisers," said Angelo Hernandez, public relations chief at Auction.ph. The executive said Auction.ph will initially hold auctions for one iPhone 3G unit, with a starting price of "only" 1 peso (US$0.02), at bidding increments of 0.5 peso.

Hernandez said the company expects a "lucky" bidder to snare the iPhone 3G at a cost far less than the announced price tag of the mobile device.

He said the appeal of purchasing the phone on the site is that Auction.ph already has a "fixed" price range for the iPhone 3G, from 1 peso to 5,000 pesos (US$110.5). The price range is considerably cheaper than the 30,000 (US$663) price tag of the iPhone currently offered in the local market, he added.

Hernandez, however, remained mum on whether the Apple phone will be a regular item on the auction site.

Although it has a substantial user base, he said, Auction.ph has yet to initiate talks on how it will source for iPhone units and on possible partnership with local distributors and carriers.

"But we are open to this arrangement," Hernandez said, adding that the auction site has more than 1 million subscribers, comprising of individual sellers, merchants and bidders.

Auction.ph's CEO and founder Oh Hyuk, started a similar auction site in South Korea that was eventually acquired by U.S. online giant eBay.

Globe criticized for hefty price
Local carrier Globe Telecom early this month announced it will be the exclusive carrier for the iPhone 3G in the Philippines.

But the company received much flak after it unveiled that the 8GB version of the Apple phone will be sold at 41,899 pesos (US$926), while the 16GB model will be available for 43,799 pesos (US$968).

Globe eventually released a statement saying it will lower the respective prices of the iPhone models by 10 percent, prior to the product's official Philippine release on Aug. 22.

The carrier noted that the price reductions will also be available to subscribers who have placed order reservations for the phone, but did not disclose the initial sales volume.

Joel D. Pinaroc is a freelance IT writer based in the Philippines.

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