In separate announcements on Tuesday in the wake of the official unveiling of Apple's fourth iteration of the sleek touch-screen handset, StarHub and M1 said they will have the handset on sale within the next few months. SingTel too is 'in the final stages of discussions with Apple' to bring the handset to Singapore, a spokesman said.
While none of the operators would elaborate just how soon they will begin selling the thinner but more powerful handset, a slide presented during Apple chief executive Steve Job's announcement at the firm's annual Worldwide Developers Conference at the Moscone West convention center in San Francisco, named Singapore as one of 17 countries that will receive shipments in July.
Local pricing of the handset, which goes on sale later this month in five countries including the United States for between US$199 (S$282) to US$299, was unavailable. However, OCBC Investment Research analyst Carey Wong, does not expect the telcos to engage in a price war to sign up customers.
This is, he said, because many iPhone fans are already locked into two-year contracts, many inked after StarHub and M1 began selling iPhones just over six months ago. Up until late last year, SingTel was the only official source of iPhones. So, it might not make business sense to dangle big discounts if the potential market is limited.
All three telcos have, in fact, have seen their bottom lines hit by the iPhone. Because of the demand for its handset, Apple can command high price for its handsets. Telcos, on the other hand, have no choice but to pay what Apple wants - or lose customers to rivals that have the handset. Nor can telcos simply pass the high handset cost to customers, forcing them to subsidise the handset heavily - iPhone subsidies was one of the main reasons StarHub's margins fell to its lowest level since its 2004 listing.