updated 04:20 pm EDT, Sun September 8, 2013
China's largest carrier may get iPhone later
Apple's next generation of iPhone may launch later on China Mobile than on other Chinese carriers, according to a new report. KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo released a note last week explaining that China Mobile is still in the process of rolling out its TDD-LTE network, which will bring faster data speeds to its 700 million subscribers. While China Mobile completes that process, its customers could have to wait until November to get their hands on Apple's phone.
Kuo believes that, rather than simply launch the lower-cost iPhone 5C, China Mobile would prefer to proceed with the suspected higher-end 5S model as its flagship device. For that reason, the carrier could simply delay the launch of both models until its version of the LTE technology is complete.
"As China Mobile hopes to use iPhone 5S as the flagship model for promoting its TDD-LTE network, it would come as no surprise if the TDD-LTE version of iPhone 5S launches before iPhone 5C," Kuo said.
Rumors describing cooperation between Apple and China Mobile have spiked in the last several weeks. While the two firms have long been in negotiations over bringing the world's most popular phone to the world's most populous carrier, China Mobile's network was generally thought to lag too far behind its competitors. There were also commercial considerations that kept the iPhone from appearing on China Mobile.
Now, though, as the launch of the next generation of iPhone nears, the two companies are thought to have finally completed a deal that will see Apple's smartphone appearing on the carrier.
Apple has scheduled a second event specifically for China. That event, which will likely herald the Chinese launch of the iPhone, will occur after the September 10 iPhone event in Cupertino. The Chinese iPhone launch, some observers note, could take place in late November, though that is as yet unknown. With the iPhone finally available on all three of China's main carriers -- and in coming to the largest of them all, the world's single biggest provider -- analysts expect the iPhone to more seriously challenge Android's dominance in the smartphone arena there.