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 iPhone 3G's coming, BlackBerry beware

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PostSubject: iPhone 3G's coming, BlackBerry beware   June 11th 2008, 2:26 pm

source : http://intranet.starhub.com/resources/NewsClip/viewarticle.asp?Code=2814
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News Category: StarHub
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Singapore Telecommunications (SingTel) said yesterday that it will be bringing Apple's new iPhone 3G in Singapore, which is bolstered with corporate e-mail features to compete in the pushmail market traditionally dominated by Research In Motion's (RIM) BlackBerry service.

Apple chief executive Steve Jobs announced the replacement for the original iPhone at the company's Worldwide Developers Conference on Monday in San Francisco. The new model boasts 3G broadband speeds, GPS, longer battery life and improved software.

Crucially, it features built-in compatibility with Microsoft's widely used Exchange servers, which allow e-mail to be pushed to devices instead of relying on periodic retrieval. Currently BlackBerry, with 14 million subscribers worldwide, dominates this space.

SingTel's announcement comes perfectly timed to coincide with number portability here, which will kick in on Friday. That will be an incentive for businesses to switch to SingTel and the iPhone, since they won't have to change phone numbers.However, neither SingTel nor Apple has revealed exactly when the iPhone 3G will arrive here, or at what price.

SingTel's Australian operation, Optus, has already confirmed a July 11 launch date Down Under, which coincides with the synchronised launch date for 24 other countries, including the United States, Hong Kong and Japan, according to Apple's website.

But a SingTel spokesman could only confirm that Singapore will join the list of 47 other countries that will release the iPhone 3G after that date, which includes the Indian market covered by SingTel's affiliate Bharti Airtel.

The US pricing for the 8GB iPhone 3G has been halved to US$199, with the 16GB model going for a similarly aggressive US$299 price. While no international pricing details have been announced, Apple's Mr Jobs said in his keynote speech that the pricing for the 8GB model would not exceed US$199 globally, which suggests a system of subsidies for its various regional partners.

Assuming this pricing control is extended to Singapore, it would make the iPhone 3G very competitive against currently available alternatives.

Without a line, a BlackBerry Curve costs between $768 and $988 here. Others phones such as Nokia's N95 8GB and HTC's Touch Dual models are available from the online M1 Shop for $638 and $398 respectively with MobileOne's (M1) SunSaver calling plan.
However, a raft of iPhone competitors are due to become available in the coming months. Foremost among them is RIM's BlackBerry Bold, but Samsung's Omnia, Sony Ericsson's X1 and Nokia's N96 are all expected, though none have confirmed pricing yet. In addition to comparable storage capacities, all of them will have high-speed downlink packet access (HSDPA) - also known as 3.5G - capability, which should make them significantly faster than the iPhone 3G.

While it is unlikely that SingTel will be able to prevent customers from using its iPhones with other mobile providers, executive vice-president Quek Peck Leng said that SingTel would be the first telco to launch the product here, reaffirming the timed exclusivity deal it announced last month that puts it ahead of rivals M1 and StarHub.

An M1 spokeswoman said the telco is still in discussions with Apple regarding the iPhone.

StarHub spokesman Michael Sim said the company expects that 'all three operators in Singapore would be offering the iPhone by the end of the year'. Mr Sim added that 'smart consumers will also know that the best deals will arrive when all three operators are marketing the iPhone'.

But none of the local telcos could comment on the iPhone 3G's new support for Asian languages, which could be crucial to it making inroads into the region.
The original iPhone was launched just over a year ago and sold six million units worldwide.

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