Good news for Apple fans in China. According to Southern Metropolitan News (translated by Marbridge Consulting’s excellent daily news digest) Apple will release the iPhone here in the second quarter. It will be priced at RMB4,000 (US$500-odd, which is quite a bit higher than the US$400 it goes for in the US). It also says iPhone will be released “in partnership” with mobile operators, but doesn’t say who.
The leading candidate is, of course, China Mobile. In November, China Mobile boss Wang Jianzhou said he was talking to Apple about selling the phones in China. “Our customers like this kind of fashionable product,” he reportedly told an audience in Macau. If you remember the hoopla surrounding the iPhone’s release, Apple said it would launch the handsets in Asia sometime in 2008, without giving any details. My theory at the time was that it would be sold in places like Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan way before Apple could hash out a deal with China Mobile. Apple, after all, likes to be in control, and it doesn’t have much leverage with China Mobile, the world’s biggest telco. Either Apple is desperate to get its phone into China or China Mobile’s pretty flexible at the negotiating table. Either way, if the news is correct, you should hold off on buying one of those hacked iPhones from the cybermall down the street.