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Analyst: Apple to expand the iPhone to new carriers, boost sales in Asia

Toni Sacconaghi of Sanford Bernstein said the Apple iPhone is enjoying wide-spread acceptance in Asia that is "on par with the U.S. in some cases."

Recent figures from IDC suggest that 12% of all cell phones sold in Japan are iPhones and South Korea's KT confirmed earlier this week that it has sold two million iPhones since launching the handset in late 2009. Apple addressed this growing market during its recent earnings conference call and confirmed that sales in the Asia and Japan have doubled year over year.

Sacconaghi projected that Apple will take advantage of this momentum and expand to additional carriers in the Asian region.

Currently, the iPhone is sold exclusively by China Unicom in China, Softbank in Japan and KT in South Korea. Future carriers may include China Telecom, Japan's KDDI and LG Telecom in South Korea. Combined, the three carriers have a subscriber base of 75 million and could help Apple sell an additional seven to eight million iPhones in 2011.

Interestingly enough, Sacconaghi did not include China Mobile in his list of potential future providers. China Mobile recently stated it was working with Apple on a TD-LTE version of the popular smartphone. Though these predictions are encouraging, they may not pan out as Apple recently said that production of the iPhone 4 is still constrained when compared to global demand.

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