FWIW … here are my replies to posts on my favorite Apple (AAPL) stock message board – AAPL Sanity
<< So essentially they’ve likely been negotiating for a model of iPhone with enhanced parental governmental controls. >>
Actually, yes … all “officially approved” WiFi-enabled phones in China must also include China’s home grown WLAN authentication and privacy infrastructure otherwise known as “WAPI”
China only recently approved the use of WiFi on handsets as long as these phones include WAPI encryption … WAPI (wireless authentication and privacy infrastructure) is still not an ISO/IEC approved standard. The ISO/IEC has previously been rejected WAPI. One reason for rejection was concern over a theorized WAPI “backdoor” that would allow government to monitor users:
This “backdoor” may or may not be true:
“One of the problems with China’s attempt to get WAPI wider acceptance is that they refuse to provide the full specification or its encryption algorithm. I can’t think of a standards body willing to adopt a standard they can’t see.”
… “with WAPI’s algorithm still hidden in the shadows, one has to wonder who WAPI’s adoption would make more secure: consumers or the Chinese government?”
… and remains a raging debate amongst “techies” who know more than I … but it’s one reason why there is no clarity as to whether the TBA “official” iPhone in China will come with WiFi … If it does include WiFi … then it is virtually certain that it will be dual WiFi/WAPI … otherwise iPhone would not be approved by MIIT.
The buzz from China is that MIIT is testing an iPhone with WiFi disabled … if true, then Apple has made the decision to forego inclusion of WAPI. NOTE: These restrictions will apply to ALL smartphone manufacturers who offer WiFi enabled phones in China – Apple, RIM, Palm, Nokia, HTC, et. al. They will either include WAPI or they MUST disable WiFi.
Background article: China to Propose WLAN Security Standard for Global Use Again by Owen Fletcher, IDG News Service Tuesday, June 16, 2009 4:00 AM PDT
All quiet from sites and sources I monitor … My SWAG is that a deal announcement will happen sometime in July with a launch later in the summer. But this is more a gut feel than based on any solid intel. In any case, a deal announcement won’t happen until formal MIIT issuance of iPhone’s network access license (NAL) … which could happen at any time.
I suspect Apple will defer the iPhone in China launch date until the 55 major cities in China are showing good coverage via WCDMA 3G … and that’s progressing.
A few items that might have some relevance …
- The iPhone 3GS will go sale officially in Hong Kong July 19 (just a rumor – no confirmation). But Apple has already stated it would be avail in HK in “July,” so this is no huge revelation.
- China Unicom’s WCDMA 3G network build out continues at a brisk pace.
- Apple/China Unicom official deal announcement could happen in concert with iPhone’s NAL issuance by China’s MIIT.
Word is that MIIT’s iPhone tests have been underway for several months now. So approval (NAL) could theoretically happen at any time. The wildcard is whether Apple is has provided the MIIT a WiFi/WAPI enabled model for tests … or just a model with WiFi disabled (as rumored). China’s authorization of WiFi/WAPI combo was only made public a few weeks ago. Should Apple elect to go this route (go with WiFi/WAPI) it might add time to testing/approval process. I have no reason to believe that Apple will go with WiFi/WAPI. Smart money says that Apple will disable WiFi on the official iPhone in China.
I’ve chatted via Twitter with several beta testers of China Unicom’s WCDMA 3G. They are primarily in Shanghai and Beijing. Since updating to iPhone 3.0 OS on their “unofficial” iPhone 3G (not S), they are reporting improved WCDMA coverage. Major cities in China (55 cities) are now up and running on WCDMA. But there are many secondary cities in China that are still in the early stages of installing WCDMA base stations. … new base stations are going up every day.
When the WCDMA 3G network is completed, I expect the coverage in China to be very good. Much better than in the U.S. Thanks to China’s economic stimulus package, the spend on 3G in China dwarfs what U.S. carriers have spent to set up their own networks. China Unicom’s WCDMA 3G network plans to cover China’s 284 cities with 78,600 base stations. That’s more 3G base stations than all carriers in Western Europe have rolled out in 9 years since 3G wireless standard has been in existence.