Custom iPhone Coming to China?
The arrival of the iPhone in China has, unquestionably, presented a host of tremendous opportunities and also more than a few headaches, particularly as a result of Chinese restrictions placed on cellular technologies. Now, China Mobile says it plans to keep nudging Apple in the direction of creating a custom iPhone - that is, one that could accommodate a network based on TD-SCDMA technology.
According to a report this weekend from Information Week
, China Mobile chairman Wang Jianzhou has confirmed that "negotiations are still underway" between Apple and China's largest mobile carrier - one with more than 500 million network subscribers. But Apple hasn't quickly folded to the pressure to create a separate iPhone simply to accommodate the Chinese, although Cupertino has a history of doing so. Some will recall that Apple's inability to include the Chinese Wi-Fi standard in earlier versions of the iPhone resulted in an exclusive iPhone product for China Unicom that conveniently omitted Wi-Fi.
In the big picture, however, the iPhone hasn't resonated with Chinese mobile users as initially hoped. With sales lagging far behind expectations and potential, China and its mobile carriers are beginning to realize that government regulations may ultimately be a bigger hindrance to the device's popularity than the turtle-speed at which Apple is moving to pacify government leaders and Chinese mobile carriers by customizing an iPhone to their preference. Recently, Chinese officials "relaxed" their stringent rules on Wi-Fi enabled devices, clearing the way for the iPhone 4 to reach Chinese consumers just as it will the rest of the world - without any "customizing" from Apple.