Apple inks more non-exclusive iPhone deals

Apple Inc. has struck more non-exclusive deals with mobile service carriers to sell its iPhone, a pair of companies said today, adding to the shift that began last week when Apple signed up two firms to market its smart phone in Italy.

On Monday, Singapore Telecommunications Ltd. and Bharti Airtel Ltd. announced in a joint statement that they had reached agreement with Apple to sell the iPhone in Australia and India, respectively. Last week, U.K.-based Vodafone said it had signed with Apple to sell the iPhone in both of those countries.

SingTel's subsidiary Optus, which has an estimated seven million subscribers, will handle the iPhone in Australia; Bharti Airtel currently has about 64 million mobile customers in India.

Last Tuesday, Vodafone and Telecom Italia -- Italy's telecommunication company -- both said that they had signed deals with Apple to sell the iPhone in Italy, the first time that the U.S. company had made non-exclusive arrangements. Until then, Apple had partnered with a single mobile service provider in each market. In the U.S., for example, the only authorized network is AT&T, while in France, Germany and the U.K. it's Orange, T-Mobile and O2, respectively.

Also Monday, SingTel said it would sell the iPhone in Singapore, while Globe Telecom Inc., the second-largest mobile carrier in the Philippines, will sell the smart phone in that island nation.

As with the Vodafone- Telecom Italia announcements of last week, Monday's joint statement by SingTel, Bharti Airtel and Globe Telecom did not disclose financial terms of the agreements with Apple. SingTel is a major investor in both Bharti Airtel and Globe Telecom.

Earlier exclusive arrangements with carriers have given Apple a portion of the subscriber fees paid by iPhone owners.

As for a launch date in Australia, India, the Philippines and Singapore, the three firms only said that it would occur "later this year."

Apple has previously said it would start selling the iPhone in Asia during 2008, but has not specified when or in which countries. So far, service providers in several Asian and Pacific region countries -- including Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines and Singapore -- have announced that they would sell the iPhone this year.

In other iPhone news, Apple's U.S. and U.K. online stores, and retail stores in the U.S., have exhausted their supplies. Several sales representatives at stores near Boston, and in New York City, Portland, Ore., and San Francisco, said that the iPhone outage is "companywide."

As of mid-day Monday, the U.S. and U.K. online stores still displayed a "Currently Unavailable" notice on their sites.

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