Apple hasn’t seen the success in China that it has enjoyed in many other markets around the world. While the iPhone has been available on some of China’s smaller carriers, a lack of presence on the state-owned (70%) China Mobile has been one of their largest stumbling blocks within the Asian country.
That stumbling block, as of this week, no longer exists. On December 25th, China Mobile’s nearly 700 million cell phone customers will be able to pre-register and purchase both of Apple’s current premium smartphones – the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c. It’s a big move for Apple, since China Mobile is responsible for some 70% of China’s cell phone services; it’s nearly 7 times bigger than either of the United States’ largest cell phone companies, AT&T or Verizon.
These versions of the iPhone will run on China Mobile’s TD-LTE and TD-SCDMA networks, making it a potentially unique new model for the Chinese market. By the end of next year, the phone company plans on owning the largest 4G network, with over 500,000 LTE base stations and several hundred cities covered in cell services plus Wi-Fi.
Being absent from China Mobile isn’t Apple’s only problem in China, however, as Android’s low/free cost presents an attractive value proposition for carriers, phone manufacturers, and customers alike.
It’s almost certain that Apple’s iPhone sales will get a large boost from the new deal, but only time will tell whether it’s too late for Apple to gain much more tractiion in the competitive Chinese marketplace.