Suzhou subsidiary starts offering iPhones
China Mobile, the world’s largest carrier with around 750 million subscribers, looks to have finally agreed terms with Apple to sell its devices after adverts for iPhones appeared on a subsidiary’s website. The site went live late last night [2nd December 2013] offering the iPhone 5s and 5c for availability in Suzhou, a city of five million just west of Shanghai. It’s thought China Mobile chose Suzhou not only because of its relatively wealthy citizens more able to afford iPhones, but also as a place where it could iron out the wrinkles in 4G delivery. Until now part of the problem has been China Mobile’s TD-SCDMA protocol, used solely by the carrier and which the iPhone doesn’t support.
That, however, could change with the advent of new chips from Qualcomm that help smartphones access not only China Mobile’s 3G network, but also its fledgling 4G service.
For months China Mobile and Apple have been locked in talks about a partnership and, if a breakthrough has been achieved, it could prove a rich vein for the Cupertino phone giant whose sales in the People’s Republic have been otherwise slipping.
In October this year further indication that a deal was on the cards came when Apple posted an advert for someone to manage its operations in China, and whose credentials had to include “extensive knowledge” of the TD-SCDMA comms protocol.
Meanwhile China Mobile has been ratcheting up its ageing network, spending some $30.6 billion on new high speed services with the lion’s share of the money earmarked for 4G delivery.