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Second S'pore operator gets to sell iPhone

MobileOne inks agreement with Apple to offer iPhone to Singapore customers later this year, bundled with "tailored service plans". However, details remain scant.
Written by Eileen Yu, Senior Contributing Editor

SINGAPORE--Local mobile users will soon be able to purchase the Apple iPhone from a second operator, a year after the mobile phone was first launched in the country.

In a brief statement Tuesday, MobileOne (M1) said it has inked an agreement with Apple to offer the iPhone in Singapore later this year, effectively ending a market that has been served exclusively by Singapore Telecommunications (SingTel) since August 2008.

"M1 looks forward to offering the iPhone and a range of tailored service plans to customers in Singapore. More information on pricing, tariffs and availability dates will be released in due course," the local operator said in the statement. It will be selling the latest available iPhone models, the company said.

But, details on what kind of service plans will be offered and when M1 will begin selling the mobile phone remain scant.

When contacted, an M1 spokesperson also declined to provide further information.

Singapore, along with India and the Philippines, began offering the iPhone in their respective markets Aug. 22 last year.

SingTel secured the first deal to sell the mobile phone in Singapore, though the country's two other mobile operators--M1 and StarHub--said then that they were working on plans to also offer the phone by the end of 2008.

But, those plans did not materialize, giving SingTel a captive iPhone market here for just over a year--until M1's announcement today.

Asked if StarHub still has plans to offer the iPhone, company spokesperson Michael Sim said in an e-mail: "We are interested to bring the iPhone to StarHub customers. After all, we offer the highest mobile data network speeds and the best smartphone plans in town."

In a statement to local media, SingTel said it has introduced "tens of thousands" of iPhone 3GS to its customers here and regularly reviews its price plans to remain competitive.

"SingTel is pleased to have been the first operator to bring both the iPhone and iPhone 3GS to Singapore," a company spokesperson said. "We will continue to collaborate with Apple in introducing the latest products to Singapore."

Going non-exclusive worldwide
Globally, Apple has been making plans to end exclusive deals once inked with operators. The company terminated its exclusive agreement with Orange in France, opening up the market to multiple carriers. Vodafone and Orange last month also announced it will start selling the iPhone in the United Kingdom next year and fourth quarter this year, respectively, ending O2's two-year exclusive deal.

China Unicom will also be following suit and will begin offering the iPhone in the Chinese market fourth quarter of this year.

In Apple's last quarter ended Jun. 27, it sold 5.2 million iPhone units, a 626 percent climb from the previous year.

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