During Apple’s most recent quarter, revenue from China came in at $3.8 billion and comprised 13.3% of Apple’s quarterly revenue. It’s no secret that Apple has its eyes set on China and views the country as an important cog in its efforts to maintain its astounding growth. During Apple’s earnings conference call just one month ago, Apple COO Tim Cook explicitly stated that China presents a substantial opportunity for Apple and that the company hasn’t even begun to scratch the surface there.
With over 600 million subscribers, China Mobile is the largest mobile carrier in the world and presents a tremendous opportunity for Apple to put its iPhone sales into superdrive.
Over the past few weeks, an increasing number of sources have indicated that Apple is coming extremely close to striking a deal with China Mobile. One significant roadblock, however, is that China Mobile operates a proprietary TD-SCDMA network that Apple has thus far been unwilling to accommodate with modified iPhone hardware.
But with the iPhone already entrenched as a household name and the premier smartphone on the market, Apple needs to focus on growth and China Mobile provides an unparalleled opportunity in that regard.
And so, stitching together a number of reports leads us to believe that Apple will offer a China Mobile compatible iPhone sometime this Fall.
During China Mobile’s shareholder meeting earlier this month, a company chairman reportedly boasted that Apple’s upcoming iPhone model would be TD-LTE compliant. As the name implies, TD-LTE is China’s next-gen mobile network technology. Previous reports have indicated that Steve Jobs had finally come around to supporting the standard and it’s also worth noting that COO Tim Cook was spotted visiting China Mobile headquarters in late June.
Clearly, getting the iPhone onto China Mobile is a top priority that warrants the involvement of Apple’s top brass – including Steve Jobs himself.
Reuters is reporting today that executives from China Mobile have met with Jobs a number of times to discuss introducing an iPhone compliant with China Mobile’s network standard.
Highlighting the popularity of the iPhone, the China-based carrier noted recently that it already has 7.44 million iPhones on its network though these iPhone users are unable to take advantage of 3G speeds as Apple doesn’t support the TD-CDMA standard.
As it stands now, China Unicom is the only official iPhone carrier in China. Earlier this month, one analyst wrote that Apple has plans to release two new iPhones on China Telecom, one being a cheap model targeting the low-end to mid-range market and the other being a full fledged iPhone 5.
So Apple, by all accounts, appears to be looking at opportunities in China with utmost seriousness. Indeed, one analyst wrote that Apple’s dealings with China Unicom and China Mobile, and China Telecom may prove to be a $70 billion opportunity for Apple.