Those sounding the death knell for an Apple, China Mobile iPhone partnership maybe a bit premature. On Friday, a China Mobile spokesperson in Hong Kong confirmed(in Chinese) that discussion between the two sides is still ongoing, but didn’t elaborate on any details.
China Mobile has bluntly stated that it has no intention of sharing subscription revenue with handset manufacturers, the core of Apple’s business model. And as the overwhelmingly dominant carrier in China, it is in the unusual position of being able to dictate terms to Apple, much to the chagrin of Steve Jobs.
But all of that may not matter. Unlocked iPhones are already available in China’s gray market, priced around 4500 yuan per, or roughly USD $610. To make matters worse for Apple, Gizmodo, a widely followed consumer electronics blog, is reporting that hackers will soon open source a functional copy of unlocking software for the iPhone, thereby liberating end users from a designated GSM carrier, and making any exclusive contracts carriers sign with Apple moot.
Ok, maybe it is time to the sound the death knell.
Jay Sheng is Shanghaiist’s Business Editor. Email tips, news and gossip about business in Shanghai and China to biz at shanghaiist.com.
Photo from Engadget.com.