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Apple nearly ready for Chinese iPhone launch - report

updated 10:40 pm EDT, Wed August 26, 2009

Chinese iPhone release

Apple is nearly prepared to start selling iPhones in China, the company's largest untapped mobile phone market, says the Wall Street Journal. A testing center under the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology confirmed an iPhone prototype -- modified for the Chinese market -- recently received one of the technical licenses the government requires for mobile phones. Apple must still obtain an unknown number of licenses before it will be able to launch the iPhone in China. Analysts have also suggested Apple has nearly completed negotiations with state-owned wireless operator China Unicom.

A senior analyst for Merrill Lynch in Hong Kong has released a report suggesting the iPhone could launch as quickly as the fourth quarter of this year, in coordination with Unicom's planned launch of 3G in October.

Apple has faced various problems in launching the iPhone in China, including having to comply with multiple government impositions limiting the phone's wireless Internet functions. Analysts have additionally predicted a Wi-Fi enabled iPhone that complies with revised regulations will be announced soon after the initial phone release.

China is the world's largest mobile market by subscribers, with approximately 687 million subscribers. When compared to the 270 million subscribers in the US, an entry into the Chinese market could signal potentially large profit margins. Analysts estimate 100 million mobile phone users in China change their phones every year and approximately 20 million of those users purchase high-end mobile phones.

The iPhone could fair well in larger cities, where mobile phones are often seen as status symbols. There is currently a strong underground iPhone market with an estimated 1.5 million iPhones already in use in China.

However, the iPhone has struggled in markets outside of the US, such as in Japan, where regular mobile phones offer many similar features. Apple will also face competition from other smart phones set for release in China in the coming months. Another potential challenge Apple will face is that most Chinese users prefer to prepay for services rather than to subscribe to a monthly service.

by MacNN Staff



  1. idannyb

    Joined: Dec 1969


    iPhone in China

    A few new tidbits re iPhone in China ...
    * There will be 2 iPhone models for China - one with WiFi enabled
    * There may be two carrier deals in China
    More >

  1. chromos

    Joined: Dec 1969


    they're imaginary, right?


  1. Constable Odo

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Oh, for crissakes!

    The Chiphone has been nearly ready for four months or so. I just wish they'd make the announcement and be done with it. There have been so many leaks and rumors, it's pitiful. I'm not listening to any more rumors until Steve Jobs or Cook says it to be true. I'll read this article today and three months from now the ChiPhone will be nearly ready to be release in China.

  1. squirrel

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Of course, they wash the iPhones in unicorn tears before shipping.

  1. mtkoren

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Struggled in Japan?

    Funny last I read the iPhone was doing extremely well in Japan - number 1 if I am correct - that the struggle idea was born of poorly reported stats. Anyone else?

  1. Mwei

    Joined: Dec 1969


    monthly service.

    As far as I know, there is no monthly service or unlimited call or data plan in China. At least for now. And why is that a challenge for apple?

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Re: Monthly service

    Because they can't figure out how to get their money out of the companies, probably.

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