There was an interesting job posting on Apple’s website today seeking an iPhone Quality Assurance Engineer to work in Beijing. The job description is as follows:
“Software Engineering is looking for an extremely talented Quality Assurance (QA) Engineer to focus on international releases of our iPhone and iPod touch products for Beijing. You will work with an amazing team that prides themselves with innovation and a simple clean user interface. Responsibilities include running daily testing of software builds with a critical eye for usability and the ability to get to the bottom of complex issues. Strong regional knowledge is critical as this role requires working in local Apple in-country offices, focusing on regional specific functionality…”
So, could an official iPhone launch in China be in the works? Well, I wouldn’t bet on it. Similar postings for positions in China have been posted on Apple’s website before.
Initial talks to bring the iPhone to China stalled on Apple’s insistence that it take a share of the monthly revenue from each iPhone user. Apple, however, stopped this practice when it released the iPhone 3G. Now, instead of getting monthly revenue, carriers now subsidize the initial purchase of each iPhone. So what’s the current hold up? No one is exactly sure, but there have been substantial reports that China Mobile would only be willing to release a crippled iPhone 3G that couldn’t access WiFi networks.
It is also entirely possible that China Mobile has no desire to subsidize the initial cost of the iPhone in the first place. But why not? Well, another theory might be that China Mobile doesn’t need an official deal with Apple to begin with. China would undoubtedly be a huge market for Apple, but hundreds of thousands of unlocked iPhones are supposedly already in use over there. Not to mention, there are some spot-on iPhone clones that are also floating around China as well. So, perhaps the demand for an ‘official’ iPhone isn’t as great in China as it is relative to other countries. It’s also important to keep in mind the varying economies from country to country. The average income in China is about 200 dollars a month, and it could also be likely that the iPhone would be economically out of reach for the vast majority of Chineese citizens.
Apple, however, recongizes the importance of getting the iPhone into China and will undoubtely keep making attempts to strike a deal. With over 400 million subscribers (which is larger than the total number of people in the United States!), China Mobile is the largest cellphone carrier in the world, and securing a deal with China Mobile is not something Apple is likely to give up on.