iPhonAsia Comment: What is “customization” in the context of the wireless handset market? Mobile operators often make direct purchases from handset manufacturers (ZTE, Nokia, Apple?) and then brand (carrier’s logo) and customize the phones to make them more “appealing” (or so the carrier’s like to believe) to consumers or more directly support the carrier’s value added services platform. Customized phones are popular in the pre-pay market.
In July of 2007, China Mobile officially issued the new brand logo of “Xin Ji” (“The mobile phone that understands my heart”) for their customized handsets.
In the post below, Accenture VP Li Weichong is dismissing rumors that China Mobile will customize TD-SCDMA handsets as a means to promote sales. Which begs the question … Just what role is Accenture going to play by working with Topssion, China Mobile’s handset customization partner?
On a different yet possibly related subject … iPhonAsia has theorized that Apple and China Mobile will collaborate on production of a TD-SCDMA enabled iPhone. I am calling this special production run for China a “TD iPhone 3G.” In addition to TD-SCDMA, the chipset in TD iPhone 3G might also support China’s mobile TV standards: CMMB (China Multimedia Mobile Broadcasting). Another possible customization might be to support China Mobile’s wireless music services platform (www.12530.com) or their brand new Web 2.0 platform – similar to MobileMe. The list goes on. One hopes that Apple will not allow China Mobile to re-make the iPhone by virtue of over customization. The black-marketeers won’t mind a bit if China Mobile goes too far. This will ensure a robust demand for non-customized iPhone 3G models that will run just fine on China Mobile’s current EDGE 2.5 G network.
Apple’s iPhone has now been introduced “as is” (sans any customization) in dozens of nations. The China Mobile deal, however, may break this mold. Yet if there is to be a “customized” TD iPhone 3G, it’s highly likely that this deal will involve a pre-sale to China Mobile of substantial quantity. iPhonAsia has speculated (wild guess) that this number could be 3 million units. iPhone Asia also believes the deal terms will include a China Mobile subsidy to propel retail sales well beyond the initial 3 million unit pre-sale (HonHai production lines will stay busy). A subsidy is out of the norm for China carriers, but TD-SCDMA is a special case. China Mobile is currently providing generous subsidies to all TD-SCDMA handsets (primarily China built) to help encourage Chinese wireless users to take the TD-SCDMA plunge.
China Communications, 9/05/08
Sources at handset customization firm Topssion have revealed China Mobile has invited consulting firm Accenture to help it ensure broader social acceptance of TD-SCDMA handsets. Li Weichong, Accenture’s vice director for the greater China region, has stated that the matter is currently still under discussion.
Dismissing previous rumors, Li believes China Mobile won’t adopt handset customization as a way to promote TD-SCDMA sales.
Topssion was founded in 2004 by the China Mobile Communications Corporation (CMCC), ZTE, Ningbo Bird, and Huawei. The company’s primary business is handset customization, sales, services and other value-added services.
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