China Mobile's iPhone user base is now 15 million strong, even though it's not selling the device. However, the telecom is in talks with Apple, and a 4G-compatible iPhone could be legit.
China continues to keep
Apple on its toes. Most recently, China Mobile announced that it supports more
than 15 million iPhone users. It's not a stupendous number, given that the
state-owned operator, the largest in the world, has 655 million subscribers. But
neither is it too shabby, considering China Mobile doesn't sell the iPhone or
have an official relationship with Apple.
The news comes from Penn
helpfully translating from Sina Tech
The site notes that the trick is "especially impressive given that China
Mobile's 3G network doesn't support the iPhone so China Mobile iPhone users
can't get any 3G service."
The Next Web adds that 15
million phones means China Mobile's iPhone users have grown by 5 million since
October 2011. In August 2011 alone, China Mobile gained more than 600,000, the
So, while U.S. carriers face
the high costs of supporting the iPhone, both in subsidies paid for the pricey
deviceswhich are more costly to carriers than any other smartphonesand in
building out high-speed networks to support data-gobbling users, China Mobile
has 15 million iPhone users paying it to make phone calls and send text
messages over 2G, while it pays zero subsidies.
Sprint CEO Dan Hesse must
have dreams of meeting China Mobile Chairman Wang Jianzhou in a dark alley.
Nevertheless, Wang is said
to be continuously knocking on Apple's door, trying to work out an arrangement,
and says that China Mobile's growing 4G (Long-Term Evolution) LTE network will
be compatible with future iPhones.
In an October interview with
Wang said, Apple promised to provide, when they develop the iPhone for LTE,
that it will include TD-LTE. We are discussing the details.
Apparently, no deal has yet
been reached, though Morgan Stanley analysts predict that a formal deal between
China Mobile and Apple could bring on board an additional 60 million iPhones by
the end of 2013.
On Jan. 4, Apple announced
that the iPhone 4S would be available in China Jan. 13.
Customer response to our
products in China has been off the charts, Apple CEO Tim Cook said in the Jan.
4 statement. With the launch in China next week, iPhone 4S will be available
in over 90 countries making this our fastest iPhone rollout ever.
Apple currently has a deal
with China Unicom, and on March 9 will begin selling 16, 32 and 64GB models of
the iPhone 4S on China Telecom; it began taking online reservations for the
devices March 2.
iPhone 4S has been an
incredible hit with customers around the world. Were thrilled to be launching
iPhone 4S with China Telecom and cant wait to get it into the hands of even
more customers in China, Apple spokesperson Natalie Harrison told The
Getting iPhones into
customers hands in China hasn't proved the simplest agenda for Apple.
The intense demand for
iPhone in China has created a rich market for scalpers, whose tactics worked to
the release of the iPhone 4S at a Beijing store Jan. 13.
After a mixed
crowd of iPhone fans and line place holders paid by scalpers, who had waited
overnight in 20-degree temperatures, grew rowdy, they were told the Apple store
would not be openingwhich caused things to get rowdier still, according to
While China is Apple's
second-highest revenue country after the United States, Apple decided at the
time to stop selling the iPhone 4S in all five of its China stores, according
to Bloomberg. The move led it to miss
out on sales related to the lunar new year
a holiday that in 2011 generated
$64 billion in retail sales, according to the Chinese government.
writer C. Custer, describing China Mobile's unofficial iPhone success
as "unflattering," adds, "Yes, China Mobile, corruption at the
executive level does
make you look