Archive for March, 2009

Skype now available for iPhone

picture-35Skype’s Net based phone calling service and other voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) apps are an extreme long shot for iPhone in China (likely will be prohibited from Apple’s China App Store). But it is notable to see VoIP calling apps making their way to the Apple App Store in the US and many countries. VoIP calling will be restricted to WiFi only. China may effectively block WiFi on iPhone due to China’s prohibitive WAPI (a proprietary encryption and authentication solution for WiFi) security standards. So it will be “no Skype for you” in China for the foreseeable future. I’m sure jail-breakers will set me strait … where there’s a will, there’s a way (blackmarket iPhones with WiFi enabled). There are plenty of WiFi sites in China’s urban zones … the problem is that China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) is not approving WiFi for use in mobile phones.  That might be changing soon if handsets’ wireless card and firmware support WAPI and undergo MIIT testing and win approval. More > HERE  

Watch video > HERE


Read Full Post »

AAPL Investors is a great site for keeping up on Apple

iphone_dt_bigbluerobotsapple-girlIf you’re an Apple (AAPL) shareholder or curious about Apple’s performance, there is no better site than AAPL Investors. For a complete list of iPhone countries (now at 80), see the AAPL Investors chart > HERE

One favorite page is the Stats Page which has graphs, charts, and background info covering: 

  • Macs Shipments
  • Mac Market Share
  • Mac Installed Base
  • iPhone Shipments
  • iPhone Country List
  • iPhone Death Watch < Inaccurate predictions of the fate of the iPhone
  • iPhone vs Blackberry
  • iPod Shipments
  • iTunes Music Downloads
  • App Store Downloads
  • Stock Performance
  • AAPL Rankings
  • Analyst Ratings
  • AAPL Monthly (YOY Growth)
  • Net Sales & Income
  • EPS and Revenue Guidance
  • Product Revenue
  • Life Line

apple-logo1See all stats, graphs and info, see > HERE

For those interested Apple and AAPL discussions, I encourage you to visit AAPL Sanity (< registration required) and Apple 2.0. See also the links page here on iPhonAsia

Read Full Post »

Merrill Lynch Analyst Bullish on (AAPL) iPhone in China

Bank America (Merrill Lynch) analyst Scott Craig raised his price target on Apple (AAPL) to $120 (from $110) and noted that  Apple may sell 1.5 million iPhones in China following a summer ’09 iPhone launch with China Unicom.  Craig further projects that Apple will sell 4.6 million iPhones in China in calendar 2010, and 5.8 million in 2011. 

2658980368_b953304c76Barron’s quotes Craig: “Our Asia supply chain checks seem to indicate that Apple believes it can achieve an initial penetration rate, least on a sell-in basis, similar to the iPhone launch in the U.S.,” (about 20%)… “In fact, given our channel checks in Asia, Apple likely believes it can easily meet this and/or believes in other scenarios that result in much higher unit sales levels.”

Read more via Barron’s > HERE

Read Full Post »

Munster Talks Apple (AAPL) on Fast Money

Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster appeared on Fast Money today to talk tech (Yahoo, Google, Apple). Patience required … you’ll have to wait until the final third of video for Gene Munster’s appearance. Munster revealed that Steve Jobs was in attendance at the recent Disney Board Meeting and that he will likely return to Apple in June, but he may take on a different role and allow Tim Cook and Apple’s senior management team to run day-to-day operations. Munster says AAPL should be interesting (bullish) during the summer months when new model iPhone(s) are introduced. And oh by the way … we might see new iPhones in China too



Jeff Macke and Gene Munster

Jeff Macke and Gene Munster

Read Full Post »

Update – 03/27/09: China Unicom executive mgmt in Beijing have now “explained things” to the Shanghai subsidiary. The flashy iPhone images and special page used to promote 3G services are now no where to be found on the Shanghai Unicom website.  This is no surprise as the over eager Shanghai subsidiary was a mite early in their promotion. Read more > HERE

iPhonAsia comment: Remember that old kids game called Telephone? You whisper something into someone’s ear and they whisper the same story (you hope) to someone else who in turn whispers it to another … finally the last person states aloud what they believe to be the message. 9 out to 10 times the original message has been badly garbled … sometimes comically so … Well that’s just what happened in Shanghai on Tuesday. The original message got “Shanghaied” and false reports of a “done” iPhone deal spread rapidly across the newswires and blogosphere. 

Here is iPhonAsia’s post today on TMO Apple Finance Board … 

The reports of a “done deal” are a bit premature

Sina.com and other Chinese sites are now quoting a China Unicom official who states that while significant progress has been made, an agreement between Apple and China Unicom to release iPhone in China has yet to be formally concluded. Sina.com states that yesterday’s press reports of a “finalized deal” contain factual errors.

What’s really going on? China Unicom’s Shanghai subsidiary was a bit over eager and splashed iPhone (and other smartphones with whom no deal has been made) all over their website to promote their forthcoming WCDMA 3G network launch. 

China Unicom’s Shanghai subsidiary is having a hard time keeping the probable “iPhone deal” a secret and they’re essentially teasing what will “soon be” through their regional website. Chinese reporters got curious and contacted Shanghai Unicom for official comment. A Shanghai Unicom spokesperson (Yi Difei) talked about the forthcoming May 17 WCDMA 3G network launch date (trial launch in 55 cities) and expressed “optimism” over an iPhone deal. Then Chinese reporters interviewed several telecom analysts who made very presumptive statements about a “done deal” and the May 17 network launch. These analysts, however, were not affiliated with China Unicom. News service reports were then miss-read by other news services … sort of like a game of telephone. And then next thing you know we have reports of an official iPhone deal and a May 17 launch date.

End result is that Apple is more than a bit miffed and now China Unicom HQ in Beijing is doing damage control.
All that said … my view is that the deal will be finalized in a matter of weeks, after:
1. Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) approval
2. Senior Apple execs go to Beijing to reciprocate the China Unicom visit to Cupertino
3. Signatures

The deal will most likely be formally announced on May 17 for launch later in the Summer. Note: To paraphrase the late great Yogi Berra; “A deal is never done, until it’s done.” So it’s only prudent to add a question mark until we get the official press release.

Full backstory >

Read Full Post »


iphone-china-unicom-11apple_unicom2China Unicom to launch iPhone on May 17?

Update: Sina.com is quoting a China Unicom official who states that while significant progress has been made, an agreement between Apple and China Unicom to release iPhone in China has yet to be formally concluded. Sina.com states that today’s press reports of a “finalized deal” contain factual errors. The Sina.com post can be found > HERE with a Google translation > HERE

As KenC points out via a MacDailyNews comment (see Ken’s comments below), the Shanghai Unicom spokesperson’s statements may have been taken out of context.  
iPhonAsia comment: A China Unicom official, associated with the Shanghai Unicom subsidiary, announced today (spokesperson’s comments were apparently taken out of context) that China Unicom will offer iPhone on May 17 … the same day China Unicom will begin a trail launch of their new WCDMA 3G network in 55 major cities. While this news may be true, it may be preliminary, as China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) has to give a formal approval to iPhone in PRC and that has not been made official yet (it could have been granted but there have been no press reports). 
NOTE: iPhonAsia is looking for the official PR … It is not yet on the China Unicom website. JLM Pacific Epoch has a report > HERE. The parent company has not offered any comment.(the parent company is correcting the record – statements were taken out of context). iPhonAsia will keep the question mark on this post until we get the official word from Apple and/or China Unicom executive management in Beijing.


picture-62SHANGHAI, Mar. 25, 2009 (Xinhua News Agency) — China Unicom (OOTC:CHUFF) (0762.HK; 600050.SH; CHU.NYSE) confirmed Wednesday that it would start to sell Apple’s iPhone in China on May 17.

China Unicom will see both chances and challenges if introducing iPhone to China, according to Gui Kai, an analyst from Guosen Securities.

By introducing iPhone, it will attract more clients, expand its market share and improve its business performance in a short term. However, it might also have to give away large revenue share.

Wan Jinjin, an analyst from UBS (NYSE:UBS) Securities, said earlier in a report that China Unicom might have to shoulder a heavy burden, since iPhone is likely to be highly subsidized. Besides, it could limit the business expansion by setting a threshold of average revenue per user (ARPU) for its iPhone users.

According to Yi Difei, a China Unicom official in charge of news release, the company will start trial operation of commercial 3G business in 55 cities across the country on the same day. The concrete time for official operation depends on results of the trial operation.

Users need not to worry about shortage of terminals, since there are plenty of WCDMA phones on the market at present.

An insider from China Unicom said that all the WCDMA phones sold in China have been tested before and are qualified to be used for 3G services.

Source: Xinhua News Agency (March 25, 2009 – 7:50 AM EDT) 

Read Full Post »


Update – 03/27/09: China Unicom executive mgmt in Beijing have now “explained things” to the Shanghai subsidiary. The flashy iPhone images and special page used to promote 3G services are now no where to be found on the Shanghai Unicom website.  This is no surprise as the over eager Shanghai subsidiary was a mite early in their promotion. Read more > HERE

China Unicom Promoting 3G services and iPhone

For those that have not heard the news, China Unicom’s Shanghai subsidiary is now promoting iPhone 3G and their new WCDMA network on their website. The Shanghai subsidiary website is careful to never say that Apple and China Unicom have reached an iPhone deal (iPhonAsia does not expect any official announcement until May 17) but the parent corp and Apple might have preferred a bit more discretion.  

Here is the page on the China Unicom site promoting iPhone 3G services, that might be available soon, including:

  • Wave-to-pay
  • Mobile TV (CCTV has been heavily promoting this in China)
  • Tethering
  • Video Conferencing

Of particular interest is the wave-to-pay promotion. Untold millions of Chinese commute to work via trains, subways and ferries. Any device that can simplify daily e-commerce would be a major value-add. Here’s my attempt to translate (from Mandarin) the China Unicom webpage:

China Unicom promoting wave-to-pay on iPhone

China Unicom promoting wave-to-pay on iPhone

“Near-Field-Communication (NFC) swipe card handset a.k.a. “wave-to-pay,” offers convenience for those who use public transportation. It’s possible to use a handset swipe card to buy a ticket. This wave-to-pay has replaced the former public transportation IC card. Using the swipe card handset for shopping eliminates the needs to carrying cash. Using wave-to-pay also makes it easy to pay in the ferry terminal. Through the swipe card, the handset (phone) can purchase your passage and avoid the worry of lining up to purchase tickets. Not only does this technology eliminate the need to carry a public transportation IC card, you don’t even need a bankcard. All you need is the wave-to-pay handset (phone), to buy a ticket and do your shopping. One machine in the hand, opens access, and gives you control. Wave-to-pay makes life more convenient.”


Here’s Google’s > translation 

Read Full Post »

iPhone specs on China Unicom’s website  

Apple iPhone 3G information and specifications are now posted on China Unicom’s Shangahi website. China Unicom’s regional subsidiaries tend to be somewhat independent, yet posting iPhone specs on the company’s Shanghai website prior to a formal announcement may cause someone to get their wrist slapped. Network World has more on this developing story > HERE

China Unicom spokespersons are not commenting and no official iPhone deal announcement has been made… yet. For full backstory on iPhone in China negotiations read > HERE

China Unicom showing Apple's iPhone

China Unicom showing Apple's iPhone


Read Full Post »

apple_unicom2Update: China Mobile’s CEO spoke to a reporter on Saturday, March 21. According to Wang Jianzhou, China Mobile’s talks with Apple have stalled, albeit “the door remains open.” This is no surprise as Apple is moving forward with China Unicom. Details > HERE (in Mandarin)

iPhonAsia Comment: Here (below) is iPhonAsia’s response to Dr. Cheng Dejie’s March 20 article China Unicom’s Apple deal may leave a sour taste published via Interfax. Read > HERE

iPhonAsia Responds to Dr. Cheng Dejie (Interfax)

Dear Dr. Dejie:

Telecom Analyst Dr. Cheng Dejie

Telecom Analyst Dr. Cheng Dejie

Thank you for your interesting article. Your arguments are supported by facts, and I agree with many of the discussion points you’ve presented. Yet there is a general theme in your article that I do take issue with. That is the idea that China Unicom may regret any agreement they make with Apple that compromises their ability to control wireless value added services (WVAS).

The title of your article “China Unicom’s Apple deal may leave a sour taste” clearly implies that a deal with Apple might not be mutually beneficial. I would disagree. China Unicom has had ample opportunity to conduct their due diligence and analyze the market opportunities that iPhone presents. To conclude that China Unicom may be taking steps that will not be in their long-term best interest is, in my opinion, an underestimation of China Unicom executive management’s business savvy. I would agree with your point that any successful negotiation with Apple would require that the iPhone (Apple) retain control over many core wireless value added services (WVAS), such as iTunes and the Apple App Store. However, I think you will be surprised to find how ready, willing, and able Apple is to make strategic compromises to better serve Chinese wireless consumers.

iphone-china-unicom-11I believe in the long run, focusing on what’s best for the Chinese consumer, will prove to be the winning strategy for China’s wireless telecom companies. In the past, many carriers imposed their will on handset manufacturers. Many phones were customized to suit the carriers’ branding and proprietary services. Industry insiders often referred to these customized handsets as “crippled phones” due to their ability to serve only one master … the carrier.

steve_jobs_iphoneThat was then, this is now. On January 9, 2007, during the MacWorld Keynote, Steve Jobs unveiled the iPhone, the first truly “smart” mobile device to converge cellular service with music (iTunes) and the real Internet (not a WAP). Millions of consumers were immediately smitten. Of course iPhone did not receive uniform praise. The loudest “boos” came from competing manufacturers/carriers and their paid “media savvy” consultants. But the consumer wasn’t listening to pundits and critics. All they had to do was pick up an iPhone with its vibrant screen, Safari browser to the real Internet, highly intelligent and intuitive user-interface (no manual necessary), and they were convinced. It was a “must have.” What’s more, the iPhone is not a prisoner to fix buttons. It is designed to evolve. Evolution is part of Apple’s promise to buyers; a promise that Apple has delivered on again and again. My own 1st generation iPhone has now been (easily and at no cost) upgraded multiple times and I’ve downloaded dozens of cool and fun applications.

800 million downloads!

800 million downloads!

I am not alone in enjoying the iPhone evolution/revolution. Over 17 million iPhones have now been sold and as of March 17, 2009, after only 8 months of operation, an astounding 800 million applications have been downloaded from the Apple App Store hosting over 25,000 applications. And now the 3.0 OS upgrade will take iPhone to a whole new level. The game changed forever on January 9, 2007. A paradigm shift is underway and mobile communications will never be the same.

Back to the key question you raised in your article… “Who can or should control the WVAS?” Right now everyone (carriers and OEMs) is charging full-speed ahead to build their own app store and proprietary value-added services. Some may succeed, and others will no doubt waste 10s of millions in a vain effort to create a winning platform. I believe carriers that elect to build their own WVAS and also embrace smart phone manufacturers’ WVAS will wind up the winners. This openness will also make for happier wireless consumers.

I am not privy to any of the plans or strategies that may have come from current Apple and China Unicom negotiations. One might imagine that China Unicom will pursue their own WVAS while at the same time allowing iPhone subscribers to enjoy many of the current Apple services. Apple and China Unicom can learn from one another and forge a successful partnership. This partnership can be financially rewarding for both Apple and China Unicom. Most importantly, Chinese wireless consumers will be the biggest beneficiaries of this partnership.

Consider that Apple has gone to great lengths and expense to make the App Store a true e-commerce vehicle for developers who receive a 70% share of all application revenues. There is no question in my mind that

iPhone integrated with peripheral

iPhone integrated with peripheral

Apple would work closely with China Unicom to ensure that there are a wealth of “for China” applications on Apple’s China App Store. I suspect that several new iPhone applications will be developed directly by China Unicom, who’ll receive at least 70% of the revenue. One or two of these applications may even be preloaded on an iPhone for China Unicom. After the iPhone 3.0 OS release, applications can be developed with “in app” purchase options (e.g. online magazine subscriptions, city guides, etc.). There are also now many ways an iPhone can interact with peripheral devices. This presents additional opportunities for ongoing revenue for businesses and developers and greater “value-add” for Chinese iPhone users.

The bottom line… China Unicom’s Apple deal can be very sweet indeed.

More background on Apple and China Unicom iPhone negotiations …

NOTE: The following is based on my research together with a large measure of outright guesswork. In other words, my analysis should be filed under “rumor,” “speculation,” and “opinion.”

Gang Li

Gang Li

A China Unicom executive contingency, led by Executive Director of Mobile Communications Gang Li, arrived in Cupertino on Sunday, March 8th for meetings with Apple. The objective of this summit was to move iPhone negotiations to a serious level. The negotiation points likely included:

  • The issue of a subsidy payment from China Unicom to Apple for each “on contract” iPhone.
  • The issue of WiFi and China’s WAPI security standard. Apple may be required to disable WiFi on iPhone in China. This would not be unprecedented. Apple has already disabled WiFi for iPhone in Egypt.
  • The issue of exclusivity. Whether China Unicom will have exclusive carrier rights in PRC and whether any “exclusive” will be limited to “3G” or to all iPhone models and any other Apple 3G enabled mobile device (3G tablet).
  • Whether Apple will agree to pre-load iPhone with applications that are popular in China (e.g. Youku vs. Youtube).

A recent report via ccw.com.cn (传联通就引入iPhone达成协议) indicates that the China Unicom

iPhone 3.0 OS

iPhone 3.0 OS

delegation remained in discussions for a full two weeks and did not return to Beijing until the evening of March 18. It is therefore quite possible that the China Unicom team was in town for the Apple 3.0 presentation (< watch) delivered at Apple’s HQ in Cupertino on St Patrick’s Day (March 17). My guess is that the China Unicom executives were sequestered in the upstairs conference room (above Apple’s Town Hall facility) where they could watch the iPhone 3.0 event by closed-circuit television. This extra discretion would be important as the national media was invited to the 3.0 event and a group of well-dressed Chinese gentleman would raise journalists’ curiosity, and might cause the press to connect the dots to China Unicom. Apple and China Unicom would prefer that any “deal” remain a secret until all formal agreements and China Ministry (e.g. MIIT) approvals are signed sealed and delivered.

What are the final steps? The deal may be concluded after the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) gives iPhone its official approval (soon). There have been reports that Apple provided China Unicom with a non-WiFi iPhone for final MIIT tests. Another key step might be an Apple visit to

China Unicom Chairman Chang Xiaobing

China Unicom Chairman Chang Xiaobing

China. My guess is that a group of senior Apple executives will travel to Beijing to meet with China Unicom CEO Chang Xiaobing and other executives. This would be a professional courtesy and show of respect for the China Unicom delegation that recently visited Cupertino. It would also be an opportunity for Apple to meet with Lou Qinjian, Vice Minister of China’s MIIT. There is also the possibility of a side trip to meet with China Mobile CEO Wang Jianzhou and continue those “cooperation talks” that we’ve heard so much (or so little) about. Spring is a nice time of year to visit China. There are sites to see after all.

May 17 for an announcement with a launch this summer?

There have been several reports suggesting that an official iPhone agreement between Apple and China Unicom could be announced on May 17. This is the same day that China Unicom will be launching, on a trial basis, the new W-CDMA 3G network in 55 major Chinese cities. The full network (283 cities) rollout will not happen until the end of 2009. May 17 appears to be about the right timeframe to make an official “iPhone in China” announcement; however, an iPhone launch may need to wait until the summer months. Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference is often scheduled for mid-summer and that might be the right forum to unveil new iPhone models. I would not expect a China launch until Apple has formally unveiled their “gen 3” mobile devices. It should be a busy summer in Cupertino and in Beijing.

What’s going on between Apple and China Mobile?

china-mobile-iphone-3g11As for the prospects of an iPhone deal with China Mobile … A “3G” deal looks doubtful, a “2G” deal is possible, and a “4G” deal will likely remain an open topic of discussion.

I agree with part of the statement you made in your article; “Apple clearly stated that it will not include TD-SCDMA functions in its handsets, which totally ended negotiations.”

I know that Apple has not commented on TD-SCDMA and I doubt that China Mobile would ever publicly admit that TD-SCDMA 3G is a “deal breaking issue.”  However, I absolutely do believe that TD-SCDMA network concerns have been a major factor in Apple’s decision tree. More on TD-SCDMA issues later…

The public reasons (leaked to Chinese media) given for Apple and China Mobile’s failure to come to terms have been over control of the App Store and WVAS. It appears that China Mobile pushed hard in an effort convince Apple to remove services from the iPhone (no WiFi, no App Store, no iTunes, etc.) in favor of China Mobile’s own WVAS. If the press rumors are true, Apple said “No!” I don’t blame them. A “stripped down” iPhone morphs into something that Apple would not want to call “an iPhone.” It’s really that simple.

Apple cooperation talkscontinuing with China Mobile? …

China Mobile CEO, Wang Jianzhou

China Mobile CEO, Wang Jianzhou

Despite divergent views over who (Apple or China Mobile) should control WVAS on iPhone, and TD-SCDMA concerns, I am not sure that discussions have “totally ended.” According to China Mobile CEO Wang Jianzhou, Apple and China Mobile are (or were) “still talking” under a non-disclosure agreement (NDA). An interesting quote on March 5 from China Mobile CEO Wang Jianzhou: “We hope the iPhone can be used on China Mobile’s network, and Apple has demonstrated its will.”

What might be going on in these reported “talks?” I honestly have no idea. It could be something big, something small, or nothing at all. Here are a few possibilities:

  • Apple and China Mobile could be discussing an EDGE 2.5 G iPhone Nano (iPhone Nano [if it exists] might be a 2.5G model, and this might not conflict with a negotiated “3G” exclusive for China Unicom)
  • China Mobile may be discussing a future TD-LTE Phone 4G (at least 18 months down the road)

China Mobile may also be considering ways to retain existing iPhone users. China Mobile has approximately 1,000,000 iPhones now running on their EDGE 2G network. At least ½ of those are the new iPhone 3G and many of these handset owners are not on contract (290 million of China Mobile’s 463 million users are pre-paid and can freely switch carriers). If China Unicom lands the iPhone, they will no doubt attempt to entice existing iPhone 3G owners to “upgrade” to 3G.


China Mobile going for full control of WVAS…

logopicture-9China Mobile has made no secret of their intent to build their own app store (to be called “Mobile Market”) and promote their own WVAS platform – Monternet, including music services (www.12530.com) and a Web 2.0 platform (similar to Mobile Me). China Mobile made 27% of their revenue in 2008 through their WVAS and they don’t want any leakage to handset manufacturers.

As you noted, China Mobile has already launched R&D for its own Android powered mobile operating system, jointly with cell phone producer Lenovo. The new MOS has been dubbed Ophone. With its own operation system, China Mobile can install more services of its own. China Mobile has also paid Topssion and Accenture plenty of RMB to work

Levono Ophone

Levono Ophone

on customization plans for TD-SCDMA 3G handsets and perhaps to continue feed them ideas they want to hear … “you can build your own mobile OS and app store just like Apple … and here’s how can we help” (more Accenture projects and billable hours… yes, I’m a cynic).

Nokia’s concerns offer clues as to why Apple said “No” to a customized TD iPhone 3G…

news1_01This effort to integrate TD-SCDMA handsets with China Mobile’s own mobile operating system and WVAS is an expensive and risky proposition. Nokia has apparently balked at pouring their own money into this initiative. Consequently, earlier this month, China Mobile revealed that it would invest 600 million RBM with Nokia and other handset manufacturers on research and development on TD-SCDMA handsets. Why is the most dominant wireless carrier in the world (China Mobile with 463 million subscribers) dolling out R&D money to handset producers to build TD-SCDMA phones? Especially to Nokia who has dominant market-share in China (37% of handset sales in China are Nokia) and has invested heavily in maintaining good standing with China Mobile? Serious question. Why? You’d think Nokia would be falling all over themselves to rush deliver a new TD Nokia 3G phone for China.

TD-SCDMA Handsets

TD-SCDMA Handsets

A large part of that answer may rest in the fact that China Mobile has an obligation to China’s Ministries to rollout the “indigenously innovated” TD-SCDMA 3G network. And yet China Mobile is now rushing development of TD-LTE 4G as fast (and quietly) as they can. CMCC will no doubt spend whatever amount is necessary to stabilize TD-SCDMA, but its future is far from certain. The tenuous future of TD-SCDMA may be a primary reason why Nokia will not take on further TD-SCDMA handset development without a cash stipend. A secondary reason may be the substantial WVAS customization China Mobile is insisting upon, along with the integration of China Mobile’s new “on the drawing board” Ophone. This is a terribly expensive undertaking for Nokia with no assurance that the customized (“crippled”) TD handsets will sell.

Why Apple said “No” to TD-SCDMA…

In your article, you questioned why Apple balked at an agreement to build a TD-SCDMA handset. In my mind, this was a “no brainer” decision for Apple. It’s my belief that Apple went to great lengths to give the nascent TD-SCDMA 3G protocol a trial, including dedicating engineering resources and possibly some design/build efforts. But any special TD iPhone 3G model is likely to remain under “lock-in-key” in the engineering vaults in Cupertino.

cmcc-tdscdma-logoWhy would Apple say “No” to TD-SCDMA 3G? …

  • China Mobile’s “end run” rush to build TD LTE 4G is a statement that TD-SCDMA may have a very limited life span (2 years or so).
  • TD-SCDMA is based on now “dated” Nokia Siemens technology.
  • Network usability problems continue (dropped calls and interference near tall buildings).
  • TD-SCDMA 3G iPhones would not be usable outside of China, albeit they would likely be backward compatible to 2G EDGE networks.
  • China Mobile has blamed the current crop of TD-SCDMA handsets for network usability problems. Would China Mobile reverse this “blame the phone” tactic should Apple launch a TD iPhone 3G? Not likely.
  • Apple understands very well that network bugs can tarnish the reputation of handsets.
  • Apple does not want to have their debut in China spoiled due to network reliability issues.

Despite the possible conflicts over WVAS and TD-SCDMA, it is my hope that Apple and China Mobile can find common ground and a basis to work together. A large cross-section of China wireless consumers are using China Mobile’s network and services. Whether it be a 2G iPhone Nano, or a 4G TD LTE model, it would be great to see two of the world’s most respected companies (Apple and China mobile) working together.

Thank you again for your article. I enjoyed reading it and appreciate your point of view.


~ Dan Butterfield, Editor, iPhonAsia 

Read Full Post »

apple_unicom2iPhonAsia Comment: On March 8 iPhonAsia reported on a rumored Apple/China Unicom summit that began the week of March 9. Details > HERE. This meeting has now been confirmed by a China telecommunications industry insider. As reported in the

China Unicom Executive Director Gang Li

China Unicom Exec. Director Gang Li

article below and through several China news services, a China Unicom executive contingency, led by Executive Director of Mobile Communications Gang Li, and Yu Yingtao, head of China Unicom’s handset management center and its procurement subsidiary Vsens.com, arrived in San Jose on March 8th. The objective of this summit was to take iPhone negotiations to a serious level. As outlined in a March 8 iPhonAsia post, the negotiation points likely included (some may have been resolved before March 8):

  • The issue of a subsidy payment from China Unicom to Apple for each “on contract” iPhone.
  • Whether Apple will agree to disable WiFi on iPhone in China. WiFi on mobile handsets does not conform to China’s WAPI standard of security
  • Exclusivity. Whether China Unicom will have exclusive selling rights in PRC.
  • Whether Apple will agree to pre-load iPhone with applications popular in China (e.g. Youku vs Youtube).
Gang Li

Gang Li

A report via ccw.com.cn (< details in Mandarin 传联通就引入iPhone达成协议) indicates that the China Unicom delegation remained in discussions for a full two weeks.  We hope they had time over the weekend to do a little sightseeing, particularly with San Francisco, Monterey, Carmel and Pebble Beach so close by. The China Unicom team did not return to Beijing until March 18. It is therefore quite possible that the China Unicom team remained in town for the Apple 3.0 presentation delivered on St Patricks Day (March 17).  This event was held in the Town Hall meeting room at Apple’s Cupertino HQ. Conveniently, there is a conference room upstairs where an executive group might comfortably watch the presentations via closed circuit TV. This discretion might be necessary as the Press was on hand for the 3.0 event and a group of well dressed Chinese gentlemen might cause a few members of the media to make the connection.

The report below, via China Tech News, suggests that an iPhone launch will not happen on May 17 (W-CDMA 3G trial launch day in 55 major cities) but only after more testing. iPhonAsia has previously suggested that May 17 could be a target day for an iPhone in China announcement, with a scheduled launch later in the Summer. We will hold to that prediction. 

China Unicom Says “No Comment” To iPhone Agreement With Apple

picture-1143.20.09 via China Tech News - In response to media reports this week which stated China Unicom has signed an agreement with Apple to introduce Apple’s iPhone into China, a spokesperson from China Unicom says “no comment at the current stage”.

However, according to a China Unicom insider quoted by local media, the two companies’ negotiation about the introduction of iPhone has gained much progress, though the details are not available.

A delegation led by China Unicom’s vice president for mobile communications marketing, Li Gang, went to Apple’s U.S. headquarters for a negotiation on March 8 and the delegation returned to Beijing on March 18.

The insider says the two sides have gained major progress in the negotiation, but they have not reached any agreement. There is one thing for sure: the iPhone handsets will not be launched in China on May 17 when China Unicom is due to launch its first batch of WCDMA mobile phone numbers, because even if the two companies decide to introduce the iPhone into China, the companies still need time to purchase the iPhone handsets and test the compatibility between the handsets and the WCDMA network of China Unicom.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.