Apple reaches deal to bring iPhone to China Mobile

Published on NewsOK Modified: December 22, 2013 at 10:51 pm •  Published: December 22, 2013
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China Mobile has more than 750 million mobile accounts. However, a survey by Bernstein Research said some China Mobile customers use smaller carriers for data service. Apple already has agreements with China Telecom Ltd. and China Unicom Ltd., which have about 455 million mobile accounts.

Apple's share of China's smartphone sales declined to 6.2 percent in the third quarter from 7.9 percent a year earlier, according to Canalys. Samsung's share expanded from 14.1 percent to 21.2 percent over the same period.

The iPhone once was so popular with Chinese gadget fans that eager buyers in Beijing waited overnight in freezing weather for the 4S model. But that excitement had faded by this September's release of the 5S. Customers said it offered too few improvements.

Samsung's advantages include being able to offer carriers a mix of phones priced as low as 1,000 yuan ($150) while Apple competes only in the highest market tier, according to Wang.

Any boost Apple gets by becoming China Mobile's new high-end phone could quickly fade, he said.

"We expect this advantage can only last three months and Samsung will bring out its next flagship model soon," said analyst James Wang of Canalys.

As for subsidies, Unicom pays 2,500 yuan ($410) of the iPhone's 5,499 yuan ($900) cost in exchange for a customer signing a two-year contract to pay a minimum of 186 yuan ($30) per month.

Analysts say China Mobile will have to match those terms to achieve significant sales.

China Mobile wants to have the world's largest 4G network. It plans to have 4G services available in 16 cities by the end of 2013 and to provide coverage for 340 cities by the end of 2014.

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Seaman reported from New York City.



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