China Mobile still interested in selling the iPhone

Thu, Nov 19, 2009


The iPhone is somewhat reminiscent of the Sirens from Greek mythology.  Try as you might to ignore it and try as you might to convince yourself that you don’t need it, you can’t help but be drawn back under the spell of its seductive powers.  If you’re a consumer, you want an iPhone because, point blank, it’s the best smartphone on the planet.  And if you’re a mobile carrier, you want the iPhone because, well, it’s the best smartphone on the planet and can attract new subscribers (the holy grail!) like crazy.

It therefore shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise that China Mobile is reportedly still in talks with Apple to sell the iPhone on their network.  In case you haven’t been paying much attention over the past few weeks, the iPhone is now officially on sale in China through China Unicom, the second largest mobile carrier in China behind China Mobile.  Sales of the device, however, haven’t been too impressive, with China Unicom stating that they only sold 5,000 units during the first week it went on sale back in early November.

Lackluster iPhone sales in the land of Yao have been attributed to a number of factors.  For one, the iPhone in China lacks wi-fi.  Two, many of the subscription plans are expensive.  Three, many Chinese prefer pay as you go plans as opposed to the monthly data plans ordinarily offered by carriers.  And four, many consumers who would ordinarily be interested in an iPhone likely already have a bootleg or counterfeit device.

Taking all that together, it’s somewhat surprising, at least on the surface, that China Mobile is still interested in getting into the iPhone game.  But China Mobile chairman Wang Jianzhou recently told reporters at a mobile conference in Hong Kong that the iPhone remains a viable option for the carrier.

We really are still in talks with Apple… In our negotiations in the past, we insisted on sticking to our conditions.  We are still very sincere about completing this negotiation.

So does this mean that China Mobile is willing to bend some of its more stringent contract terms?  Possibly.  Remember that China Mobile was Apple’s first choice for a mobile carrier in the region, and given that China Mobile subscribers are on average wealthier than their China Unicom counterparts, the iPhone may very well be more of a hit product on that particular network.

via AFP


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