updated 10:15 am EST, Mon January 21, 2008
Thailand iPhone talks
Apple's latest attempt at negotiating international distribution of the iPhone is in Thailand, according to reports. Reuters cites Prattana Leelapanang, the assistant VP of wireless business marketing for Thailand's Advanced Info Service (AIS); according to Leelapanang, his company is already discussing the details of an arrangement with Apple, including revenue sharing. The last point is particularly notable, as neither Apple nor its telecom partners have in the past admitted to revenue sharing, although it is a widely accepted fact amongst analysts.
AIS owns approximately 50 percent of the Thai cellular market, at 24.5 million subscribers. It is not known when the iPhone might premiere with AIS, but there is unlikely to be a rush, as the company is still planning a test of 3G broadband services. Consequentially, the current 2.5G iPhone is likely to be sufficient. Apple and AT&T have promised a 3G iPhone by the end of 2008.
Thailand represents a third front in Apple's Asian deployment plans. The company is said to be in talks with Japanese carriers NTT DoCoMo and Softbank, and it recently broke off negotiations with leading Chinese provider China Mobile, allegedly over revenue-sharing issues. If it does not reconcile with China Mobile, Apple will have to turn to the country's only other wireless carrier, China Unicom.