Maybe. China Mobile’s CEO Wang Jianzhou confirmed that his company has been in discussion with Apple to bring the wildly popular handset to China, “because our customers like this kind of fashionable product,” said Wang.
But, negotiations have stalled over Apple’s subscription revenue sharing business model. In Europe and the US, Apple receives a portion of iPhone users’ data/voice revenue from their wireless carriers. China Mobile, with its 350 million user base and de facto monopoly status, doesn’t feel that it needs to play by Apple’s rules. Besides, if Apple doesn’t play ball, there is always Android, Google’s recently announced open source linux Mobile OS offering. China Mobile was on hand and spoke during Google’s unveiling of its highly anticipated wireless initiative last week.
Update: Huang Xiaoqing, head of China’s Academy of Mobile Communication killed earlier rumors that China Mobile will introduce Apple’s iPhone to China in 2008. Talking to Netease reporters, Huang said, “In China, SIM cards are free to work with any mobile phones, and our carriers do not share subscription revenue with handset manufacturers. Therefore, iPhone’s current business model isn’t a good fit for China.” Huang went on to say, “China Mobile has had contacts with Apple, but it was very preliminary, no agreements were reached. Of course, China Mobile welcomes the iPhone in China, but only as a handset(i.e. lose the business model).”
Update: Yahoo News: China Unicom also open to iPhone talks
Jay Sheng is Shanghaiist’s Business Editor. Email tips, news and gossip about business in Shanghai and China to biz at shanghaiist.com.