iPhone in China … It ain’t over till it’s over
August 4, 2009 by Dan Butterfield
The following is my reply to Artman’s post (quote below) on the terrific AAPL Sanity message board
. Artman is referencing Tim Cook’s careful choice of words when asked when iPhone might be launched in China. Twice now Tim Cook has stated that Apple’s objective is to have iPhone officially in China “within a year.”
(i.e. could be tomorrow… or 12 months from now)*******************
Atman: << THE QUOTE I remember – Tim Cook: “Within A year” >>*********************
And that’s a wise quote to keep in mind Artman … As Yogi Berra often admonished “nothing is done till it’s done!”(a bit of a paraphrase)
In my last post
I listed a few of the issues that could still be on the Apple/China Unicom negotiation table (won’t repeat here).
When I think about the China iPhone negotiations, I think about how much is controlled by the the “powers” looking to protect “greater interests” in China. I’m reminded of my pick-up basketball games down at the local gym. The same guys show up every Saturday … Teams get picked and the competition is fierce. It’s human nature to want your team to win, and you’ll fight like crazy to score big and shut down your opponent. But when the game is over, everyone, no matter the team they were on, is still good friends. Next game, the guy you battled and elbowed may be your own teammate. And when a stranger shows up at the gym and “has game,” you want that guy (Apple) on your team. But no matter how well the stranger can play, he won’t supplant the relationships with the guys you’ve known for years.
In China’s telecom industry, the wireless carriers compete like crazy, but everyone knows each other very well and they are always very mindful that the telecom industry comes first … and if necessary State authorities will remind carriers that China’s telecom industry comes before any one company’s immediate self-interest.
So you can draft a great “outside player” (Apple) to help you win the game … but if authorities perceive that the industry might suffer or lose face (outside player commands too much attention and boosts pay for players vs team owners), then the game can and will be rigged.
Long way around to my point … which is that China is not making things easy for Apple, an outside player that has “serious game.” China’s ministries want to bring their own carriers’ “game” (value-added services platforms) up to Apple’s level and/or otherwise constrain Apple’s game. No WiFi for you Apple! Only China’s WAPI standard. Want to offer wireless value-added services on your own iTunes/App Store platform? Might take awhile to approve that.
All that said … there are multiple parties in China who have serious economic interests in a prompt and successful launch of iPhone, including:
- Apple China
- China Unicom/vsnes.com
- Foxconn (Hon Hai Precision)
- Best Buy China – probable iPhone distributor
- Wal-Mart China – possible iPhone distributor
Plenty of money will be spent on an iPhone launch … “Net net” iPhone in China will be good for China’s economy