Apple and China Mobile are in talks to officially bring the iPhone to the world’s largest carrier, by user numbers. By its own count, it has more than 667 million subscribers.
The idea of an Apple
iPhone on Chinas largest mobile network is moving closer to reality. China
Mobile Chairman Xi Guohua, at a meeting with shareholders in Beijing, told the
audience, Weve been actively talking to Apple on how we can cooperate. I
cant give you too many details, but Id like to repeat that both sides do hope
to boost our cooperation, according to a May 17 report from the BBC
Unofficially, China Mobile
is said to already
support more than 15 million iPhones
. The devices were purchased elsewhere
but are using China Mobile SIMs to run on the network, though they can only
place calls and send text messages at 2G speeds, since the network and the
iPhone are incompatiblea major reason China Mobile hasnt officially offered
the iPhone yet.
However, as the country
transitions to Long-Term Evolution (LTE) technology, and the next iPhone in all
likelihood is LTE-enabled, Apple and China Mobile may finally get to cooperate.
The BBC report also adds
some color to why China Mobile runs a technology different from the iPhone-friendly
networks of its smaller rivals, China Unicom and China Telecom, which have been
steadily taking on China Mobiles churning subscribers. BDA China consultant
Duncan Clark tells the BBC that China Mobile was anointed by the Chinese
government with the dubious prize of getting to deploy Chinas own attempt at
a 3G standardan initiative that has been a nightmare for the company, which
has aggressively invested in WiFi hotspots as a defensive measure.
Once Chinese authorities
approve the new LTE standard, said Clark, the incompatibility issues will be
resolved. The catch, he added, is when that will happen; 2014 is his earliest
reported May 9 that China
is expanding the scale of its LTE trial, after the Ministry of Industry and
Information Technology (MIIT) approved the second stage of the trial. The
country is promoting a version of LTE called TD-LTE. More commonand used by Verizon
Wireless, for exampleis Frequency Division Duplex-Long-Term Evolution (FDD-LTE).
A major difference is that TD-LTE uses a single frequency instead of paired
spectrum, a benefit in spectrum-scare times. While its thought of as a Chinese
has reported that TD-LTE has the potential for much wider deployments.
is now Apples second most successful market
. During the first quarter of
2012, 5 million iPhones went to China and another 3 million to Hong Kong, Gartner
reported May 17. Should China Mobile finally have an iPhone to sell, its 600
million-plus subscribers could do wonders for Apples ability to compete
against Samsung, now the worlds top-shipping vendor in both the smartphone and
overall mobile phone categories.
Consumers in China have
shown themselves to have a tremendous appetite for Apple devices. Stores
selling the iPhone 4S sold out of the device within hours of its going on sale.
The Hong Kong store and five China retail stores are among Apples highest traffic
and highest revenue stores, and Apple has plans to build several more stores
there in the next few years.
In April, the BBC
reported, as well, on one of the most extreme
examples of the passion for Apple products in China: A teenage boy, solicited
by an illegal organization in a chat room, sold one of his kidneys in exchange
for an iPhone and an iPad.