eXtensions Diary

Bangkok Diary Thursday 3 December 2008: iPhone to be released in Thailand


I saw earlier today (Wednesday) that the icons page for the iPhone "coming soon" page was updated today (just a couple of hours after I put out my podcast) and that, finally, Thailand is one of those countries that appears. Taiwan was also added to the list this week and the date for its introduction there is said to be 13 December. As yet, there is no date given for the release in Thailand.

True Clicking down from the icons finally brings us to a page which reveals that, and this is a bit of a surprise, True Move is the sole company handling this for the moment. The links to their pages are (unsurprisingly) in Thai.

One of these is a page for potential users (button on the right) to show their interest and the sections are in the order: name, surname, telephone number and email, followed by one of those security codes. Local non-Thai users have learned to have a friend nearby for some of the more difficult instructions. Once information is entered, the user is taken to the True home page where there is, at the top level anyway, some English.

Opinion over the last year or so had been that AIS and DTAC, the main mobile phone network owners would be first in line for when the device arrived in Thailand officially, but perhaps two other things should be considered. True is a subsidiary of a major Thai corporation, the CP group (Charoen Phokpand) and has much influence here. As well as mobile phones, they handle fixed line telephones, a major cable and satellite TV system and many of the wifi outlets in the city.

While AIS did have major influence when it was part of the group owned in part by the Shinawatra family -- the former prime minister -- it is now owned by the Singapore company Temasak. Likewise, DTAC is owned in part by the Norwegian Telenor Group.

The iPhone is not rare in Thailand at the moment. I saw a number in use while in central Bangkok earlier today. The device is openly on sale at places like the Mahboonkrong Shopping Center (a short walk from Apple's Siam Tower offices) and the Central Pinklao shopping mall (among many others), these are unlocked devices that have mainly come from the USA and latterly from Hong Kong.

With the number already in use in Thailand, there is some question as to whether Apple may be running a little late now with a consequent loss of sales. There will likely be more information released concerning availability and pricing. As yet, we have only the knowledge that it is finally coming.


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