During today’s Apple (AAPL) Q2 ’09 earnings conference call, Piper Jaffray Analyst Gene Munster asked Tim Cook about the timing for iPhone officially entering China. Tim Cook’s answer:
“We now have have the four “BIRC” countries – Brazil, Russia, India and China (Hong Kong), we have three of those up (not yet PRC) and we have 8,000 storefronts in those three selling the iPhone, so we feel very good about that and we’re putting a lot of energy in growing those. China we are not in yet. We would like to be in China within the next year (i.e. anytime within the next 12 months) and we’re clearly working on that. But I’ve got nothing specific to announce today on it (iPhone deals in China).”
iPhonAsia Comment: iPhonAsia believes that Apple executive management very recently traveled to Beijing to meet with China Unicom executives and officials from China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT). We believe that Apple and China Unicom have now concluded a formal agreement. But a deal is not done until China’s MIIT formally approves iPhone. iPhonAsia is optimistic that MIIT’s authorization will be forthcoming.
May 17 is a possible date for announcements, but we would not be surprised if things are kept under wraps until June 9 (WWDC 2009 Keynote) a good day and forum to unveil new iPhone hardware and China deals. iPhonAsia does not believe we will have any iPhone launch in China until mid to late summer (no sooner than mid July).