Heard about it once before and the rumor surfaced again this week that Smart Communications was trying to bid to carry the iPhone 4 in the Philippines. It never materialized so we’ll have to put this entry in the speculative bin.
The iPhone 4 is the 3rd smartphone from Apple to be released exclusively thru Globe Telecom in the Philippines. Globe is partly owned by SingTel (which also got the exclusive deal in Singapore) so it probably was a package deal for them 2 years ago.
However, in some countries or regions, there are multiple carriers that distribute the iPhone. The unconfirmed story is that Apple offered Smart to be the 2nd distributor (or Smart asked Apple what it would take to be a distributor) of the iPhone 4 in the Philippines and the contract/offer was for about Php6 Billion (~$136 million).
Estimates put the total number of handsets in the 200,000 range for that distribution deal. That’s a lot of iPhone 4 they need to sell to get back on the 6B investment and considering a huge number of postpaid subscribers are already locked to Globe, it’s gonna be hard to hit that sales number with existing competition.
Some handset manufacturers tell me that if you can sell over 10,000 smartphones in the country, it’s already considered a hit model. The 100k to 200k figure seems too high a risk. That’s most probably the reason why there’s a 24-month lock-in period when getting a postpaid account for the iPhone — the carrier needs to get that investment back via long-term subscription plans on top of handset sales.
Then again, the media mileage one gets being an exclusive iPhone distributor as well as the coolness factor being an Apple-partner is also part of the package.