iPhone in China deal FUD
NOTE: Lead buried at post’s end – Beijing Apple iPhone job posting
I’ve been picking up some rather annoying buzz about a story on China’s NBD.com (use Google translate). The NBD.com post states that Apple and China Unicom “are not making progress in negotiations” and iPhone is “now less important in China Unicom’s strategy.” This story and several other regurgitated articles — Marbridge Consulting, Trading Markets, etc. — are being read by institutions and hedge funds that trade in Apple (AAPL) shares. These institutions are being spoon-fed pure FUD (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt).
My research suggests that the deal is still a “go” and will be announced before end of July. The official launch of iPhone in China will likely be later this summer. The only wildcard that could delay launch is Apple’s possible inclusion of China’s WAPI encryption layered over WiFi. There has been no good visibility on Apple’s WAPI plans, so my guess is as good as the flip of a coin – WAPI/WiFi yes or no? WAPI/WiFi would require a special production run* of iPhone for China.
I believe the current “deal stalled” stories are coming as a result of China Unicom’s recently announced plans to develop UniPlus, their own mobile operating system (an Android recode) and UPhone, a customized Android-based handset. I first wrote about this in April and more recently here > China Unicom and China Mobile unveil operating systems.
China Unicom’s UniPlus/UPhone have been in the works for many months. This move mirrors and matches China Mobile’s Android OPhones and their proprietary OPhone mobile operating system (MOS) which is still under intense development. China Unicom had to respond in kind. In late March, I engaged in a lengthy public debate with Dr. Cheng Dejie, a senior telecom analyst in China, about the carriers’ move to develop their own MOS and proprietary handsets > read Apple’s iPhone in China Negotiations
The recent media reports seem to infer that UniPlus/UPhone will leave no shelf-space for iPhone as China’s carriers are now attempting to Appleize** their own wireless platforms. In the case of China Mobile, that may well be true (at least in 2009). In the case of China Unicom? Well, yes, they’re also Appleizing** but they are smart enough to know that “me too” UPhones may not be compelling enough to grab market share away from China Mobile. Hence, they will partner with Apple to offer an official iPhone in China. UPhones and iPhones can exist side-by-side in China Unicom’s Vsens.com inventory. The Chinese consumer will ultimately pick the winners.
Now that I’ve buried the lead, hear it is … Today’s (June 10, 2009) Apple Job Posting – Program Manager, Beijing China. Duties: Responsible for supporting and managing iPhone Training Program across Asia. Responsibilities will include working with all carrier partners that sell iPhone to implement and design training programs. Individual will work with the Apple Sales Teams on planning and training retail channel partner personnel on selling iPhone.
Still believe the iPhone in China deal is in jeopardy? Smart money says it’s coming soon!
|* iPhonAsia has long theorized that China would have a special production run of iPhone that might include several pre-loaded apps for China (e.g. Youku vs Youtube). The new model iPhone 3GS unveiled at WWDC already supports (w touch of globe icon) 30 different languages, including both simplified and traditional Chinese. Apple’s iPhone in China will also support Chinese character recognition whereby users draw Chinese characters with predictive capability.