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Apple, China Mobile not yet in formal iPhone talks

updated 09:20 am EDT, Mon April 14, 2008

Apple, China Mobile gap

Apple and China's largest cellular company, China Mobile, have yet to begin formal negotiations over the iPhone in spite of mutual interests, say reports. The latter company's chairman, Wang Jianzhou, revealed the information at this weekend's Boao Forum conference, explaining that there is no current timeframe for a Chinese iPhone. He further states that while the companies may have had informal conversations in the past, disputes over business models have kept the two corporations from making progress.

"Our door will remain open as long as there is customer demand," Jianzhou promised.

It is generally believed that the major problem may be Apple itself, which has typically been able to dictate the terms of iPhone sales, but may have encountered two obstacles unique to the Chinese market. Chinese companies are first said to refuse revenue-sharing agreements with phone makers as a rule; secondly, the 16GB iPhone ($499) costs twice the average salary of a Chinese worker, which could make even the 8GB version too expensive for all but a wealthy minority.

by MacNN Staff





  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969



    they hit an impasse? On one said is Apple, who wants total control of the product and a hefty piece of the pie. On the other is China Mobile, which doesn't give out control or pieces of pie.

    Can't imagine why they're at an impasse. Wonder who'll blink first? The telecom due to high demand for the iPhone, or the company trying to get the iPhone into the biggest market in the world.

  1. ZinkDifferent

    Joined: Dec 1969


    China Mobile...

    Just as seems common for all having to do with China and Chinese decisionmakers, China Mobile will end up blinking when it realizes that all markets around it officially support iPhone, yet it does not - at which time it will agree to Apple's terms as a face saving gesture.

    Apple can afford to sit back and let China Mobile s**** themselves over. Unlike most western business which would fall all over themselves for an imaginary economic advantage in China, Apple will continue along its own path, and let the pieces fall in place.

    I predict that China Mobile will fall in place, like a good little soldier, as soon as (or shortly after) Apple makes a deal with Taiwan, and Taiwanese telecom trumpets that deal - particularly as the Olympic Games approach. By mid-2008, deals will be in place with Thailand, Singapore, Australia, Korea, and Japan - leaving China Mobile as the lone straggler, and making them appear very incompetent at that time.

    I have a feeling Apple knows very well how to deal with the Chinese, yet the Chinese have no clue they are being played.

  1. Constable Odo

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Let us know when they get into formal talks, if ever. I hope you are right, zinkdifferent. I'm a bit concerned about China having leverage over Apple. I would think Apple needs them more than they need Apple. Still, since Apple says it's not tied to any deferred revenue model, I'll be satisfied if China allows Apple to sell high-priced unlocked iPhones like they're supposed to do in Australia. China's whole philosopy and government is so different from ours that I only hope some compromise can be reached this year. I want Apple to ensure that at least 11 million iPhones are sold by the end of this year and I'd prefer to see higher (closer to 13 million). I believe investors will be much happier if they blow the numbers away instead of just squeaking by.

  1. aquaibm

    Joined: Dec 1969


    You are wrong.

    You are wrong.zinkdifferent. I am sure Apple needs China mobile more than they need Apple.China mobile will just sit back and let Apple s**** themselves over.Yep,I am so sure.

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Re: china mobile

    Apple can afford to sit back and let China Mobile s**** themselves over. Unlike most western business which would fall all over themselves for an imaginary economic advantage in China, Apple will continue along its own path, and let the pieces fall in place.

    First, I don't think China mobile has competition. So they lose NOTHING by not joining up. How are they going to be hurt?

    Second, have you looked at iPhone sales? They've sold some 5 million (hoping for 10 this year, I believe). How many phones do you really think they'd sell in China? And how badly will they be hurt by not selling the iPhone?

    The fact is there's too many fanboys who think the world now revolves around the IPhone, that it is the only phone that everyone wants. There are hundreds of millions of phones sold every year. Apple is just a small drop in the bucket.

    Oh, and China mobile won't be trying to save face if those other countries get deals (a big if, as Apple only has deals with a handful of countries now). You don't save face by capitulating to some western country. You save face by not giving in, and mocking those other telecoms for giving away so much to have a precious phone. Then you sell one of the 80 knock-offs at really cheap prices and watch the money roll in (because people want to be seen with what looks like what's cool. It doesn't actually have to be the cool thing itself.)

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