Press gets Spun by China Mobile
“Someone’s just making this stuff up!”
~ Dan Butterfield, January 17, 2008
A quick Google search of news stories with key words “iPhone in China” will yield literally thousands of results. A click on same topic stories in the last 24-hours will produce dozens of articles/posts proclaiming that “Talks with China are over!” …. “Apple loses China!” … “China Mobile Walks Away from iPhone Deal” … “Apple runs into a China Mobile Wall”
Geez! Do a little detective work authors! Peel back one more layer. Ask one more question. Check a second source. It’s not that tough. Lazy journalists wind up as pawns serving someone else’s agenda. This appears to be the case with so many of the recent iPhone “no go” in China stories. I am going to pick-on one recent article to illustrate the point. I have nothing against the author (I’m sure he is a fine fellow); however, this is a perfect example of the type of journalism that lends credence to the Steve Jobs’ theory… “someone’s just making this stuff up.”
I will post the full article below and include my comments in parentheses with [blue-colored font].
Apple out over revenue demands, RIM finally enters the region
~ Matt Chapman, vnunet.com 17 Jan 2008DVERTISEMENT
RIM has secured the backing of China Mobile, while the iPhone has been spurned in a row over revenue.
[The RIM deal with China Mobile is old news that keeps resurfacing as if it was “new.” Kudos to RIM PR. Like Groundhog Day this story keeps repeating itself and each time it hits the wires the press forgets they've heard it before and they go nuts. "OMG, Blackberrys in China!" The first reports of the RIM/China Mobile partnership came in July of 2007. There have been multiple follow-up press releases, including last October when RIM reported its first shipments of BlackBerry phones for China.
The author's preamble implies that the RIM deal is “at the expense of the iPhone.” Oh really?! J … I didn’t realize RIM had that much pull with Wang Jianzhou? Let's think rationally. Given China Mobile’s desire to expand data/value-add services, I doubt the world’s largest carrier would slam the door on iPhone. The Chinese call the black-market iPhone "Ai Feng" (translates to love craze). iPhone is Apple's "best iPod ever," runs OS X, has a Safari browser and actually makes net-surfing on a phone fun. Why should China Mobile care? iPhone owners use data ... lots of data ... far more than on any other handset. If China Mobile wants to remove “wonder and excitement” from mobile users’ experience, then Blackberry should do just fine. But if China Mobile wants to put their Monternet data-services in hyperdrive, they'll keep the door ajar for Apple.
A few iPhone data usage factoids ... “Google data shows that Apple iPhone owners have been accessing its mobile search tools at a dramatically higher rate than RIM or any other smart-phone. According to The New York Times (IDC research) "the data usage is striking because the iPhone accounts for just 2 percent of smart-phones worldwide. That would seem to indicate that iPhone users access online services at a rate of 20x customers with other handsets.”]
This will come as a blow to Apple, as China Mobile’s 332 million customers offer the largest number of subscribers of any single mobile phone company. A spokesman for China Mobile said that talks with Apple had been ” temporarily stopped” but did not confirm whether they would restart.
[Negotiations have “temporarily stopped” does not mean - “It’s over!” And declining to say whether discussions will resume does not mean “don’t let the door hit you on the way out!”]
Other sources within the company said that problems arose because Apple wanted to control the value chain and had been asking for as much as 30 per cent of the revenues from iPhone sales. “Of course we could not agree,” Gao Nianshu, general manager of the data department at China Mobile, revealed in a talk to students.
[The author somehow failed to find and report the other quote from Gao Nianshu (same day, same interview). The one where he states “contacts (with Apple) continue.” The author also fails to report a key quote made during CNBC Jim Goldman’s video interview with Apple's CEO
(Jan. 15, 2008 - answering a question regarding China Mobile)
Steve Jobs: “It’s very strange … we’ve met once with one of their representatives. There have never been any ‘hot and heavy’ discussions either ‘on’ or ‘off’ … someone is just making this stuff up.”
This "on video" remark by Steve Jobs contradicts Gao Nianshu’s (China Mobile’s) conveniently packaged comment.]
Reports in Chinese newspapers suggest that the BlackBerry will go on sale in the region before the end of the month. This follows years of effort by RIM to launch into the only Asian market it has yet to tap. RIM hinted at a deal with the Chinese firm back in July 2007. However, the BlackBerry debut does not guarantee success for RIM, as China Unicom‘s rival RedBerry handset sells for less in China.
Back-story: This is not the first time that “talks have ended” statements have come from a China Mobile spokesperson only to hear later that “talks continue.” Yet it seems the China spin machine is not totally in synch. According to a January 14, 2008 Bloomberg report, Sina.com has said the companies (Apple and China Mobile) will meet for another round of talks.
Conspiracy?: In my opinion, Rainie Lei’s (China Mobile spokeswoman) January 14, 2008 statement was a bit too conveniently timed. Ask yourself this basic question – Why has China Mobile seen fit to deliver this “talks ended” statement to the press again? And why go public on the first day of the MacWorld Conference when the world’s media would be focusing on Apple? Apple is not talking publicly about China negotiations and they have never made any proclamation that a “deal is in the works” with China Mobile. So (China Mobile) why go public? And why now? Could it be that China Mobile knows that a “talks ended” statement to the press will put pressure on Apple to rejoin or begin serious discussions? Or are there other “behind the scenes” players who persuaded China Mobile to make statements to the press? With the stakes so high, there are many motivations to stir up Apple FUD (Fear Uncertainty and Doubt) and MacWorld would be the perfect time. Here come the black helicopters carrying FUDsters all the way from Grand Cayman Island, Rockefeller Plaza NYC, Ontario Canada and Espoo Finland.
There is clearly more to the “China discussions” story than Steve Jobs was prepared to share on Tuesday. However, it boggles the mind how so many journalists, bloggers, and pundits can run with China Mobile PR spin with little or no fact-checking. End result … the press gets spun and they got it wrong!