updated 09:20 am EST, Wed November 14, 2007
Chinese iPhone distant?
In spite of speculation to the contrary, China is unlikely to carry iPhones in the near future, some executives from the country suggest. One executive, China Mobile CEO Wang Jiangzhou, yesterday claimed that his company was in talks with Apple for carrying the device; this pushed Apple stock up 10 percent, and China Mobile's up by nine. This is now being challenged an anonymous senior telecom executive, who tells Reuters that Apple will have a problem with Chinese SIM card technology, which is normally unlocked. Apple has so far insisted that iPhones be attached to a single domestic carrier, and has in fact twice undone attempts to unlock the American version.
The executive also notes that revenue sharing is literally a foreign concept. "Secondly," he says, "our business model does not entail sharing revenue with terminal producers -- we don't share revenue. That's a Chinese rule. All it is right now, on the iPhone and Apple, is that the firm welcomes their approach."
Li Zhengmao, the executive director of China's other wireless carrier, China Unicorn, says that his company does not have any plans to bring the iPhone to the country. "But of course," he cautions, "we're always willing to discuss a good business opportunity if it presents itself."
Zhengmao argues that the iPhone will succeed in China so long as it has Mandarin text messaging; Gartner analyst Sandy Shen, however, believes that China Mobile will strongly resist any attempts at enforcing revenue sharing, and that for most Chinese, a legal iPhone will be far too expensive. The iPhone costs an average of $500, but in China, this equates to twice the average worker's monthly salary. At present, there is not even a Chinese version of the iTunes Store, Shen comments.