WSJ: Apple readies iPhone for launch in huge China market

Apple Online Store “Apple Inc. is getting closer to clearing the hurdles to start selling iPhones in China, one of the last major phone markets Apple has yet to tap,” Loretta Chao, Juliet Ye, and Yukari Iwatani Kane report for The Wall Street Journal.

“The release of the iPhone in China could turbocharge overseas growth for what is already Apple’s fastest-growing product. China is the world’s largest mobile market by subscribers, with some 687 million subscribers. That compares with more than 270 million subscribers in the U.S.,” Chao, Ye, and Kane report. “The iPhone hasn’t sold as well in some markets as in the U.S. In Japan, for example, the Apple brand isn’t as strong, and regular mobile phones offer many of the same features.”

MacDailyNews Take: Pure bullshit. Please see:
iPhone 3GS is Japan’s bestselling phone – August 17, 2009
• Japanese look to Apple’s iPhone for ideas on how to fix their ailing cellphone business – July 20, 2009
Apple iPhone dominates Japan smartphone market – July 03, 2009
• Crowds line up for Apple’s iPhone 3GS debut in Japan – June 27, 2009
Apple iPod, iTunes Music Store absolutely rule Japan’s digital-music player market – February 24, 2006

Chao, Ye, and Kane continue, “An iPhone prototype that was modified for the China market recently received one of the technical licenses the government requires for mobile phones, according to a testing center under the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. It is unclear how many approvals are required before the phone can be released.

“Apple must still complete negotiations with state-owned wireless operator China Unicom (Hong Kong) Ltd., which is expected to carry the iPhone, but analysts say those talks are nearing conclusion. Beijing-based research firm BDA China Ltd. said in a report this month that the iPhone is “now finally set to make its official debut in China in October,” citing interviews with companies including Unicom,” Chao, Ye, and Kane report. “Cynthia Meng, analyst for Merrill Lynch in Hong Kong, said in a report that she also expects the iPhone to launch in the fourth quarter this year, in conjunction with Unicom’s planned launch of 3G in October.”

“Apple has faced regulatory hurdles to launching the iPhone in China, including having to comply with a government rule that requires the removal of the device’s wireless Internet function,” Chao, Ye, and Kane report. “Analysts say they expect a later rollout of a Wi-Fi enabled iPhone that complies with newly revised regulations.”

Chao, Ye, and Kane report, “One indication of the iPhone’s strong potential in China is the thriving underground iPhone market that already exists there. Though the device isn’t officially available, BDA estimates there are already 1.5 million iPhones in use in China, and the handset is on sale everywhere from online vendors to resellers of Apple products in sprawling electronics malls.”

Full article here.


  1. Simone:

    Two main reasons. First, it is overwhelmingly CDMA technology; second, law prohibits subsidising phones by carriers, so everyone pays full price, and plans are comparably cheaper (no subsidy).

    There is a third reason, which actually has to do with Samsung and LG. Koreans are xenophobically proud of their home-grown technology and don’t like outside competition. Not to mention general preference for portable devices with lots of buttons, displays and lights (which is why iPod didn’t do all that well, with its minimalistic design).

    So, two big reasons, many smaller ones, contribute to writing off Korea as potential major market for the iPhone.

  2. Yeah HMCIV, not to mention if you drop your iPhone in Elbonia it sinks into the mud.

    China though is going to be a huge market for the iPhone. What a great device for people to have there.

  3. I keep hearing the missing Wi-Fi has nothing to do with regulations, lot of phones have it and also the iPod Touch has it. It’s more about pricing and keeping foreigners from buying the cheaper Chinese iPhones and smuggling them out, and of course keeping the phone affortable for the average user.

    We’ll see it when the iPhone comes out.

    I know two guys with miPhones (around U$150), they seem to be perfectly happy with them, but are willing to pay U$20 more to get better touch display and OS. For 95% of the Chinese people the price is more important than couple of extra functions, and if the phones look the same even more so.

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