updated 11:25 am EDT, Fri June 24, 2011
Could mark first simultaneous Chinese launch
"A new iPhone with China Mobile's network will debut and the cooperation will be announced in September," says a blog post by the carrier's marketing official, Liu Yang, as quoted by Shanghai Daily and Reuters. The Daily speculates that the device will support 4G networks, which could be backed by recent reports of TD-LTE negotiations. Most analysts, though, are only expecting an LTE iPhone in 2012, due to the limited spread of LTE in the US so far combined with other technological barriers.
The claim of a new iPhone in September is consistent with many industry reports. Apple COO Tim Cook was also recently spotted at China Mobile headquarters, which may signify urgent negotiations. Cook is the de facto head of Apple while CEO Steve Jobs is on an indefinite medical leave, and the highest levels of Apple management rarely fly out of the US for talks.
If a China Mobile version of the next iPhone is announced in September it will mark an important sea change. China has, for example, never been included amongst early launch countries for an iPhone, forcing local buyers to wait months or turn to the gray market. China Mobile also has a much larger audience than China Unicom, currently the only (official) Chinese iPhone carrier, offering the potential of a significant boost in sales.