China Mo­bile users can’t get their bite of Ap­ple yet

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - BUSINESS COMPANIES - By SHEN JINGTING shen­jingt­ing@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Long-run­ning ne­go­ti­a­tions over a pos­si­ble al­liance be­tween Ap­ple Inc and China Mo­bile Ltd, the na­tion’s big­gest tele­com car­rier, are test­ing con­sumers’ pa­tience. The car­rier poured cold wa­ter on would- be iPhone shop­pers on Wed­nes­day, say­ing that it’s still in talks with Ap­ple.

“China Mo­bile has yet to reach an agree­ment with Ap­ple, but good news de­serves to be waited for, and we ex­pect to re­lease co­op­er­a­tion in­for­ma­tion soon,” Xi Guo­hua, chair­man of China Mo­bile, said at the China Mo­bile Global Part­ner Con­fer­ence 2013 in Guangzhou.

Xi’s words quashed spec­u­la­tion that China Mo­bile, with a user base of al­most 760 mil­lion, would an­nounce a for­mal part­ner­ship with Ap­ple on Wed­nes­day.

China Mo­bile’s Bei­jing branch be­gan tak­ing online or­ders for uniden­ti­fied fourth­gen­er­a­tion “star mod­els” of smart­phone mod­els last week.

Al­though the com­pany did not spec­ify a par­tic­u­lar de­vice, online spec­u­la­tion sug­gested that it was the iPhone 5S hand­set, with com­menters post­ing a golden ap­ple.

About 68,000 peo­ple had made online book­ings as of Wed­nes­day, but none of them could say when they’ll get a real iPhone 5S smart­phone.

A China Mo­bile of­fi­cial who re­quested anonymity said the “big pic­ture” of co­op­er­a­tion be­tween China Mo­bile and Ap­ple has been set­tled, but some de­tails re­quire fur­ther ne­go­ti­a­tion.

Bryan Wang, prin­ci­pal an­a­lyst with For­rester Mar­ket Ad­vi­sory (Bei­jing) Co Ltd, said in an e-mail to China Daily that Ap­ple had al­ready sold more than 16.8 mil­lion iPhone hand­sets in China in the 12-month pe­riod ended on Sept 30. He said that if China Mo­bile agrees to a part­ner­ship with Ap­ple, iPhone sales will soar in China.

“Ap­ple Inc could sell as many as 17 mil­lion new iPhones to China Mo­bile users in the first year” af­ter an agree­ment, Wang said.

Gene Mun­ster, an­a­lyst with in­vest­ment bank Piper Jaf­fray Co, said that 17 mil­lion unit sales would rep­re­sent about 2 per­cent of China Mo­bile’s to­tal sub­scriber base (which stood at 759 mil­lion in Oc­to­ber) or 10 per­cent of the 3G user base (176 mil­lion).

Ap­ple did not re­spond to China Daily’s re­quest for com­ment on Wed­nes­day.

In con­trast to Ap­ple, many do­mes­tic mo­bile phone man­u­fac­tur­ers are mov­ing to catch the 4G smart­phone wave.

Yu­long Com­puter Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tion Tech­nol­ogy Co said it aims to be­come the top brand in China’s 4G smart­phone mar­ket. It will launch 30- plus 4G mo­bile phone mod­els next year.

On Wed­nes­day, Yu­long un­veiled two 4G smart­phones. It said the hand­sets will hit the mar­ket next month, at around 1,000 yuan ($165) per unit.

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