Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook, today met with China Mobile’s Chairman, Xi Guohua, after earlier an earlier meeting this week with China’s Minister for Industry and Information Technology, Miao Wei. Today’s meeting with China Mobile is notable because the Chinese carrier is the world’s largest mobile phone operator with roughly 700 million subscribers and does not yet offer the iPhone to its customers.
China Mobile said in a statement that Tim Cook and Xi Guohua “discussed matters of cooperation” but declined to go into specifics due to a confidentiality agreement that was signed by both parties. Apple has been negotiating with China Mobile over carrying the iPhone since at least May last year, but the two have struggled to come to an agreement over the terms of revenue sharing.
Tuesday’s meeting with the Chinese Minister for Industry and Information Technology saw the two chat about innovation, China’s IT industry and the mobile industry. Yesterday, Tim Cook and Phil Schiller were spotted visiting an official Apple reseller in Beijing. Whilst today Tim Cook gave an in-depth interview to Sina Technology News where he said Apple expects China to soon become their largest market. In noting this, Cook also unsurprisingly revealed that Apple will be expanding its retail presence in China from 11 stores to more than 25 (no time frame is specified, but presumably in 2013).
[Sources: Reuters, AllThingsD, TUAW]
In a report on MarketWatch, China Mobile states that it has reached a consensus with Apple regarding the use of 4G technology on future iPhones. The iPhone 4 currently uses 3G technology, 4G is the ‘next-generation’ technology for mobile data which promises even faster speeds.
Wang Jianzhou, China Mobile’s Chairman, didn’t specify many details about the agreement but says that they will be beginning 4G trials in China beginning next year and that discussions with Apple are continuing. Bloomberg today also got some additional details from Jianzhou, but in that report, the consensus with Apple was not mentioned.
The company may also be able to offer Apple Inc. (AAPL)s iPhone with the shift to TD-LTE, Wang said. While Apple has decided not to make a version of the phone for the third-generation TD-SCDMA system that is used only by China Mobile, the Cupertino, California-based company may produce one for the TD-LTE system, he said.
It follows yesterday’s report from DigiTimes that this year’s iPhone was originally meant to have LTE capability (a 4G technology) but was scrapped after it was discovered Qualcomm was having problems producing chips in large enough quantities. In that report it was said that China Mobile was expected to reach a deal with Apple soon to offer the next iPhone on it’s network this year – contradicting the Bloomberg report.
As reported by Reuters this morning, China Mobile’s Chairman Wang Jianzhou gave out some interesting details on Apple’s upcoming radio cellular technologies the Cupertino company is expected to implement in the near future on the iPhone. Specifically, Wang referred to an iPhone capable of running on China Mobile’s TD-SCDMA (since Apple can already do CDMA iPhones) and TD-LTE. China Mobile is the world’s largest network with 584 million subscribers as of December 2010.
We hope that when they develop the next-generation models, since Apple can create CDMA, they can also consider developing TD-SCDMA,” China Mobile Chairman Wang Jianzhou was quoted as saying on Wednesday by the Sina Technology news portal.
“These two years we have been discussing the issue. Right now the situation is moving forward. Apple has made it clear they will support TD-LTE,” Wang said in Davos, Switzerland.
For what it’s worth, Apple’s co-founder Steve Wozniak seems pretty sure an LTE iPhone will happen at some point. But that’s sort of a given if the technology evolves and becomes a standard.