Update: Jan 3rd 2009 True sees Wi-Fi as key to iPhone sales
Friday, January 02, 2009 09:19 AM
True Move is touting the strength of its nationwide Wi-Fi coverage as the main focus in promoting the first authorized iPhone 3G handsets when they finally reach the Thai market this month.
Aspiring owners of the iPhone 3Gare being offered a package from True Move with monthly payments over two years totalling 33,576 baht (US$967). The figure includes the cost of the hand set plus a basic calling, SM Sand Wi-Fi service package.
The country’s third-largest mobile operator recently signed an agreement with Apple to become the first operator to sell the iPhone 3G in Thailand. The iconic product, compatible with third-generation Internet wireless connectivity, is now available for booking online by True customers, with the first models to be delivered at a launch party at Siam Paragon from Jan 16 to 18.
Suphakit Vuntanadit, director of marketing and customer experience management of True Move, said his company would highlight its mobile Internet convergence services, which integrate fixed-broadband Wi-Fi on top of existing Edge and General Packet Radio Access (GPRS) systems, as the main selling point of the new product.
“Given our position as a leading Wi-Fi service provider, we believe that Wi-Fi will be a magnet for iPhone,” he said.
Mr Suphakit declined to provide more details, citing the confidentiality of its contract with Apple.
True Move is offering a series of promotional tariff packages together with the subsidized handset, which can be paid in interest-free installments. Starting from a monthly payment of 1,399 baht (US$40) for 24 months (33,576 baht (US$967) total), the package would include phone calls, SMS and data downloading over Wi-Fi.
True Move recently introduced an unlimited Internet access campaign through Wi-Fi, Edge and GPRS nationwide for 20 baht (US$0.60)a day or 450 baht (US$13) a month. Customers can also choose Edge and GPRS services for 10 baht (US$0.30) a day or 250 baht (US$7.20) a month while postpaid subscribers can choose unlimited calls and online services for 299 baht (US$8.64) per month.
The True group currently has 50,000 Wi-Fi users with its 16,000 Wi-Fi locations in 52 provinces while True Move has two million Edge and GPRS users.
True Move is on course to launch 3G service in the second quarter of 2009, according to CEO Supachai Chearavanont. He believes 3G will be a turning point for the local industry and offer a great business opportunity to enhance True’s convergence business model.
Mr Suphakit also said local mobile market growth was expected to be driven by non-voice services over the existing 2G and 3G networks.
A telecom industry source said that market leader AIS and second-ranked DTAC were also in talks with Apple to offer the smartphone locally.
He said that Apple had asked AIS to sell 400,000 units within three years, compared with 300,000 each over three years for DTAC and True.
Shares of True Corp closed on Tuesday on the Stock Exchange of Thailand at 1.79 baht (US$0.05), down nine satang, in trade worth 23.42 million baht (US$674,000).
Update: BANGKOK, Dec 24 (Reuters) – True Move PCL, Thailand’s third largest mobile phone firm, said on Wednesday it planned to sell Apple Inc’s (AAPL.O) 3G iPhone in Thailand from Jan. 16, a key driver which should boost revenue next year.
The deal will make True Move, a subsidiary of True Corp TRUE.BK, the first operator to sell the new phone in the fast-growing Thai market.
True Move will sell the 8GB model for an upfront payment of 6,999 baht ($202) and monthly fees of 1,199 baht. Customers are required to use True Move services for at least 24 months, it said in a statement.
Thailand’s top mobile phone operator Advanced Info Service (AIS) ADVA.BK has said it was also in talks with Apple about selling the iPhone.
By Khettiya Jittapong
The deal could make True Move, a subsidiary of True Corp TRUE.BK, the first operator to sell the new phone in the fast-growing Thai market. Bigger rival Advanced Info Service ADVA.BK says it is still talking with Apple about iPhone.
A senior official at True Corp, which owns 75.26 percent of True Move, said True Move would work with Apple on the launch of the sleek smartphone, which offers faster Internet access and improved email features.
Thailand is still in the testing stage for 3G networks, but 3G iPhone users can surf the Internet via existing EDGE or GPRS networks, a 2.5 generation mobile technology.
Apple rolled out the iPhone in more than 20 countries in July and has set a target of selling 10 million iPhones this year.
Thailand’s largest mobile phone operator, Advanced Info Service (AIS) ADVA.BK, said the Apple deal with True Move was not exclusive.
“Apple is talking with every operator, including us and DTAC. When will we sell iPhone? It depends on when we can reach a deal with Apple on terms and conditions,” Somchai Lertsuttiwong, AIS’s executive vice president for marketing, told Reuters.