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Monday, June 23, 2008, 09:00 am PT (12:00 pm ET)

Softbank says iPhone 3G to start at $215 in Japan, plans at $68

Softbank Corp., Apple's exclusive iPhone carrier in Japan, announced Monday that the local version of iPhone 3G will start at 23,040 yen ($215) for the 8GB model, around the same price as the version that will be sold in the US.

The 16GB iPhone 3G will be priced at 34,560 yen, or $320. Softbank is expecting customers to pay 7,280 yen ($68) per month for their iPhone service plans, which will include unlimited data transmissions and free air time when talking to other Softbank subscribers for the better part of the day.

That's about 70 percent more than Softbank is accustomed to generating from its customers and is sure to boost the company's earnings, according chief executive Masayoshi Son. As of last quarter, the Softbank saw average revenue per subscriber each month of only 4,310 yen, or $40.

"We expect users who pay a lot to migrate from 'au' and DoCoMo," Son told a group of reporters. "There have been users who were just attracted to our low price, but the main point this time is feature attractiveness rather than price."

Both Softbank and DoCoMo had been in the running for the coveted rights to sell iPhone in Japan, with Softbank ultimately winning the contract. That hasn't stopped DoCoMo from persisting in its negotiations to bring the touch-screen handset to its more than 50 million customers, according to Reuters, which cites the carrier as saying it's still in talks with Apple.

iPhone 3G Softbank Plans


Meanwhile, Softbank is unsure how many iPhone 3Gs it will have to offer its own 18 million+ customers come July 11th, the day the handset is due to go on sale in Japan and 20 other countries.

iPhone 3G Softbank Plans


"We expect the first lot to evaporate instantly. We in the company will probably fight to get one as well," Son said. "Supplies will likely be scarce for a while."