UAE telecom majors etisalat and du are witnessing a surge in iPhone4S sales at customer care kiosks across Dubai, according to telecom workers swamped by high demand for the latest Apple offering.
Queues were unusually long yesterday as impatient mobile users scrambled to be among the first to purchase the upgraded model. The iPhone4S is the fifth generation of the original iPhone. which changed the mobile phone industry when it was introduced in 2007.
Both telecom companies began selling the new iPhone4S in sync with Apple's official launch of the new units in the UAE on Friday.
"We have had very long lines every day since Friday, it has been very busy," said an etisalat sales clerk yesterday at a customer kiosk in Dubai. "We knew there would be a lot of demand but we didn't expect this much."
The clerk said interest seemed in the last few days to be outpacing the high consumer demand for the iPhone4 last year.
Surprised by demand
"I'm quite surprised, a lot of people want this new version of the iPhone4 and they want it right now," she said.
Sales by etisalat were doing so well at the kiosk that by midday they were out of the black models in all memory levels and only had white iPhone4S units in stock with only 16GB of memory.
The clerk said she was surprised given that price discounts on etisalat iPhone4S post-paid plan phones were only being offered to existing post-paid customers.
Sales associates at du were also busy managing long queues yesterday and sales of the iPhoneS were going well.
"We've been especially busy today, all day. The iPhone4S is very popular and we're trying our best to keep up with the crowds," said an employee.
He added that contrary to earlier reports, du was selling the new iPhone4S for prepaid plans only and was not only selectively selling to postpaid customers first.
"Prepaid customers, mostly younger subscribers, have been buying a lot of iPhones today," he said.
Similar to past sales of Apple smartphones, etisalat is once again offering lower up-front prices on phones for postpaid buyers in exchange for higher monthly payment plans over a 12-month contract.
For example, existing postpaid customers were eligible for a free 16GB iPhone4S if they were willing to pay Dh449 per month under Plan 3 with etisalat.
That free up-front figure is in contrast to the Dh2,749 cost of buying the phone on a straight prepaid basis with no contract to sign.
On the high end of the memory scale, etisalat is also offering the 64GB iPhone4S for a subsidised up-front cost of only Dh799 for the same monthly payment of Dh449 over one year.
Plan 3 gives users 200 national SMS per month, 4,000MB of national data per month and as a bonus, 800 local or 200 international calling minutes.
As for du, Ashok Israni, vice president of Marketing (Consumer Segment), said it is not giving general customers discounted prices until the market makes such a move more feasible for the company.
Instead, du is offering special discounted offers to its premium and business customers in the interim.
"We wanted to make our premium customers feel a bit more privileged. As the market matures, we will see if we extend incentives," Israni told Gulf News yesterday.
Three basic prices
As it stands, Israni said general customers are being offered three basic prices for the phones: Dh2,749 for the 16GB model, Dh3,199 for the 32GB model and Dh3,599 for the 64GB model.
Business plan subscribers are being offered substantially lower unit prices from Dh1,199 for the 16GB model to Dh1,999 for the 64GB unit.
And, Israni said, instead of compelling new iPhone4S owners into signing contracts, du is offering simple monthly fees that offer a wide latitude of different calling and data rates
For users who want just a simple prepaid option, they simply need to spend at least Dh100 a month on voice or data services to maintain their included 1GB of data per month.