Apple’s Vice President of iPod and iPhone Product Marketing, Greg Joswiak, is in China with a team of other Apple executives to meet with officials from China Unicom to discuss plans for the upcoming iPhone launch in China, according to a report in the International Business Times.
In late July, reports originating from the Shanhai Securities News publication stated that the iPhone would officially be coming to China in September via China Unicom, the nations second largest mobile provider in the region with over 150 million subscribers. Soon thereafter, however, China Unicom spokeswoman Sophia Tso said that while discussions were ongoing, a formal agreement with Apple had yet to be reached.
Still, the presence of key Apple executives in China signals that negotiations are well on their way, if not already nearing or at completion. The report notes that in early March, a team of China Unicom executives visited the US to negotiate with Apple, and that now Apple was repaying the favor, so to speak, as it seeks to determine the best approach to launch the iPhone in China.
To give you an idea of just how huge the Chinese market is for Apple, there are more cell phone users in China than there are actual people in the United States. Now that’s some serious business.
Of course, to reach that market, Apple has reportedly had to make some concessions, such as manufacturing an iPhone sans Wi-Fi, in accordance with Chinese law.
And in case you need further proof that the iPhone arriving in China is now a question of “when” and not “if”, the IBT notes:
According to the listing posted on China’s State Radio Regulatory Commission (SRRC) website, Apple has been approved of GSM / WCDMA cellphone complete with Bluetooth with an internal model number A1324 on May 7th, 2009. The statement says that the certificate expires in five years. This has been seen as a turning point for Apple to enter mainland China.
It has also been confirmed by China Telecommunication Technology Labs (CTTL) of China Academy of Telecom Research, a research institute under the MIIT afterwards. CTTL said Apple’s iPhone is taking entry-net test.
Apple has been trying to get the iPhone into China for some time now, and after traversing through a series of roadblocks, it appears that everything is finally falling into place. So now the question becomes – can the iPhone succeed in China, a country with a struggling economy and a proclivity for top of the line tech knockoffs?