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iPhone Going Non-Exclusive on More Carriers

Singapore’s SingTel has issued a brief announcement that they will offer Apple’s iPhone later in 2008—and, like the announcement with Vodaphone—the deals break with Apple’s previous pattern of signing exclusive deals with mobile operators in each market. According to the new announcements, the iPhone will be offered by SingTel and affiliated companies in Singapore, the Philippines, India, and Australia—which means the iPhone will be available from multiple mobile operators in both Australia and India.

The SingTel deal encompasses several mobile operators, including Australia’s Optus (which is a SingTel subsidiary), along with Bharti Airtel and Globe Telecom in India and the Philippines. SingTel is a major investor in both Bharti Airtel and Globe Telecom. SingTel itself will offer the iPhone in Singapore.

The new deals seem to indicate a distinct shift in how Apple is marketing the iPhone outside of the United States. When Apple began introducing the iPhone to international markets, it made exclusive deals with a single operator in each market. By enabling multiple operators to offer the device, Apple is probably hoping to increase overall volume sales of the iPhone, as well as the number of legitimate iPhone customers internationally. Limits on iPhone availability have made the handset a hot item on the grey market, where customers purchase handsets in one country, and use them on compatible networks in markets that don’t have official iPhone availability.

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