The iPhone 5 is set to ship in China December 14 on the nation’s second and third largest carriers: China Unicom and China Telecom. However absent from the launch is China Mobile, the nation’s (and world’s) largest telecom that boasts a user base of 703 million subscribers. It’s presumed the reason why the iPhone hasn’t yet launched on China Mobile is because of the network’s specific TD-SCDMA technology that isn’t used elsewhere, however that may not be the case. Unwired View reports today that while speaking at China Mobile’s 2012 Developer Conference, the company’s president Li Yue stated “technology is not a problem, [it’s] mainly about business model and benefit-sharing issues.”
Of course Yue’s comment doesn’t necessarily mean we can bank on the iPhone 5 landing on China Mobile any time soon, but it does show that Apple and the company have at least held advanced discussions, including pricing and shared revenue. In 2011, the Wall Street Journal reported that a China Mobile iPhone launch was getting closer. Additionally, China Mobile chairman Wang Jianzhou said his company is in constant talks with Apple, and Apple CEO Tim Cook visited China Mobile’s headquarters last summer to presumably discuss the possibility of supporting 4G-LTE radio technology. The iPhone 5, with its accompanying 4G, was expected to launch on China Mobile, but never did/still hasn’t.
China Mobile is important to Apple and its aggressive attack into China. The carrier would add a slew of customers that may otherwise be looking to Samsung to fulfill their smartphone needs. That’s not to say China Mobile is not harboring iPhone users like T-Mobile here stateside, with 15 million customers using unlocked iPhones as of Spring this year. Today’s note that technology is not holding the iPhone back from China Mobile is definitely interesting, as we presume China Mobile is working with or against Apple’s strong arm. [Unwired View]