SIM card shortage takes bite out of Apple's iPhone 5 sales

SIM card shortage takes bite out of Apple's iPhone 5 sales

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A girl holds the new nano-SIM card, for iPhone 5. The new, slimmer SIM measures 0.67mm. Photograph: Pha Lina/Phnom Penh Post

Apple’s new iPhone 5 is expected to arrive in Cambodia within days, prompting feverish demand from consumers – who may not intially be able to use it, due to a shortage of SIM-cards.

Phone shops in Phnom Pehn have been bombarded with pre-orders and phone calls about the product, which will cost more than US$1000. Shops expect to have it in stock this weekend.

Many phones have already been sold to customers who are unaware that they might not be able to use the phones at first because many shops do not stock the necessary SIM cards.

The iPhone 5 is only compatible with the new nano-SIM cards, which are 40 per cent smaller than the current micro-SIM format, but are not yet sold in many shops in Cambodia.

Without the correct SIM-cards, the phones can only be used as a video-gaming device and for the wi-fi.  

A staff  member at Apsara Mobile, one of Cambodia’s leading mobile phone retailers, said that the shop has received many pre-orders and phone calls about the new iPhone. He expects them to arrive in the store on  September 22 or 23.

The Apsara employee, who asked not to be named, said: “My shop will probably have it available to our customers this weekend. The price will be above US$1,000.”

But he admitted that the shop  has no nano-SIMs in stock, and said he hoped that local mobile phone companies would start selling them soon.

“Of course, the new iPhone works with nano-SIM which may not be widely available in Cambodia, but I believe local mobile companies will produce it to catch up with the global market.”

Lim Chakrya, who works at the Mobitel call centre, said her company does not have the right SIM cards.

However, the nano-SIMs, which measure 0.67mm, can be bought at branches of Smart Mobile in Phnom Penh where they are already in stock. Other local companies say they have ordered them in.

Although shops in the city offer a cutting service which trims SIM cards down, they can only be cut to the micro-SIM size that fits the previous model, the iPhone 4S.

Thaing Sokunpiseth, marketing manager at Smart Mobile, said: “Actually, we already started selling nano-SIM cards. Customers can easily get them at our Smart offices.

“If you have the old big SIM card, you can exchange it for the new nano-SIM card when you top up with US $2 credit,” he added.

“If you are a new Smart mobile user, you can get a new nano-SIM for the same price as the big SIM card. It would cost you US $4.”

Other phone companies have sent off orders for the cards, and say they will arrive soon.

Mok Sakhorn, brand and communications manager at Hello, said the company has already ordered the nano-SIM and expects the card to arrive soon. Apple announced last Saturday that they received more than two million pre-orders for its iPhone 5 in the United States in just 24 hours. The total more than doubled the previous record set by the iPhone 4S.

To contact the reporter on this story: Chhin Sreyneang at [email protected]

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