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Thai AIS in talks with Apple on iPhone launch
BANGKOK (Reuters) - Apple Inc and Thailand's Advanced Info Service (AIS) are in talks about selling the U.S. firm's popular iPhone in Thailand, a senior official of the Thai firm said on Monday.
"We are negotiating on details, including a revenue sharing standard. Apple needs a local operator to promote iPhone," Prattana Leelapanang, assistant vice president for AIS's wireless business marketing, told Reuters.
He gave no details of when the talks would be completed.
iPhone, which combines Apple's iPod music player, a video player and a Web browser, is now sold in the United States and Europe, and Apple plans to launch it in Asia this year.
Last week, Apple and China Mobile, the world's largest cellular operator, terminated talks to launch iPhone, one of the hottest gadgets to hit U.S. and European stores in 2007.
Apart from China, Apple had also initiated talks with NTT DoCoMo Inc and Softbank Corp to bring its multimedia device to Japan, although sources at both firms said revenue-sharing was a hotly contested issue.
AIS, 21.4 percent owned by Singapore Telecommunications Ltd, also signed a contract with state-owned fixed line operator TOT to develop their networks jointly in a bid to cut costs, AIS president Wichian Mektrakarn told reporters.
"This cooperation will bring mutual benefit to the two companies because it should reduce repetitive investment and cut costs," Wichian said.
AIS was seeking regulatory approval to test third-generation (3G) mobile services on its 900 MHz bandwidth and was likely to join TOT in developing 3G services, he said.
AIS has 24.5 million mobile users, about a 50 percent share of the Thai cellular phone market, while TOT has 6.2 million fixed line subscribers.
AIS competes with number two Total Access Communication and True Corp, which has a majority stake in third-ranked True Move.
AIS shares were down 2.6 percent at 93.50 baht on Monday, when the main index was down 2.93 percent.
($1 = 33.10 Baht)
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