China Telecom is still working to land a deal to carry the iPhone in China, according to the company’s chairman Wang Xiaochu. Assuming the two companies strike a deal, China Telecom would become Apple’s second iPhone partner in the country behind China Unicom.
Details of China Telecom’s negotiations aren’t available, and that’s by design. “We have a confidential agreement with Apple and can’t tell you anything as of now,” the company chairman said, according to World News Australia.
The iPhone may soon be available on more networks in China
Adding China’s third largest cell service provider would give the already popular iPhone yet another boost in the country. Apple has been expanding in China and has already opened four stores in Beijing and Shanghai.
While China Telecom has confirmed it is in talks to carry the iPhone, it appears that China Mobile, the country’s largest carrier, may be working a deal with Apple, too. China Mobile’s 3G network isn’t compatible with the iPhone, which puts the company at something of a disadvantage since the smartphone would have to drop back to slower 2G data speeds.
The idea that Apple might build a special version of the iPhone for China Mobile’s 600 million customers, just as it did for Verizon in the United States, hasn’t slipped past analysts. “It’s possible the iPhones China Mobile will sell are meant for its 2G network,” commented Gartner analyst C.K. Lu, according to PCWorld.
China Mobile does have a faster 3G network based on China’s own TD-SCDMA technology, but Mr. Lu doesn’t think Apple would have much interest in supporting it. “Unless China Mobile can make a deal with Apple that gives them a lot of money, I think it would be hard to see this phone come out soon,” he said.
Bringing China Telecom and China Mobile into the iPhone family would dramatically increase the potential number of customers for Apple, which translates into even more money for the company’s bottom line. With closed-door talks and speculation, however, there’s no telling exactly when the deals could come together.