It took six years for China Mobile to strike a deal with Apple over the iPhone. In all that time China Mobile’s then-boss Wang Jianzhou met with Steve Jobs just once.
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Lesser-known feature and smartphone brands made the biggest gains in the second quarter, according to IDC.
Both Samsung and Apple fell back and Huawei slipped out of the top five as the lower prices of Android phones accounted for 42.4% of smarphone sales, compared with 36.4% in the previous quarter and 40.2% a year ago.
Just under 237 million smartphones were shipped, up 53% from a year ago. Samsung, Apple and LG remained the top three vendors, with Lenovo taking Huawei’s spot at fourth and ZTE retaining fifth position.
In the broader mobile phone market, 432m units were sold, with the top three – Samsung, Nokia and Apple – also losing market share to smaller brands such as Alcatel.
Said Ramon Llamas, a research manager with IDC's mobile phone team:
“Lower-priced smartphones continue to gain traction, but the key for vendors will be to keep prices low while still offering premium devices and services. We fully expect to see large-screen smartphones and other flagship devices establish a presence within the lower-priced smartphone segment as well."
Pretty much everyone who watches Apple and/or China Mobile expects the world’s most valuable company and the biggest mobile operator on the planet to stirke an iPhone deal some time this year.
Each for its own reasons needs the other more than ever, while the convergence of 4G standards means the elimination of the TD-SCDMA barrier.
This story in the respected Southern Metro Daily newspaper (Ch) thus isn’t news, and it isn't definititive, but confirms that China Mobile is thinking along the same lines.
A China Mobile source says the company believes that with Qualcomm’s new convergence chipsets, Apple will no longer have to make standalone phones for Mobile’s standalone 3G network, enabling the pair to work together.
At the earliest, that will happen in the third quarter when the sixth generation iPhone is likely to be released. Qualcomm’s chipset offers five modes - TDD FDD LTE, W-CDMA and TS-SCDMA, and GSM/GPRS – in ten spectrum bands.
China Mobile has built out a trial TD-LTE network in 13 cities and will expand that to more than 100 cities this year. It has begun commercial trials in Hangzhou and Shenzhen. 4G licences have not been issued, but reportedly China Mobile will be the first to obtain one (Ch) in October.
China Mobile’s TD-SCDMA network doesn’t allow roaming and offers a limited handset choice, causing it steadily lose ground to its rivals in 3G, where it accounts for just 41% of customers. Both its rivals, China Unicom and China Telecom, offer the iPhone.
If Apple and China Mobile do reach a deal, the signs are good. In Guangdong, China’s richest province, China Mobile already has almost as many iPhone users plugged into its 2G network as China Unicom has on its 3G network.
Stat of the day: around 30% of Apple's iPad profit comes from selling smart covers.
Richard Kramer, managing partner of London-based Arete Research, calls it the 'after hardware' market - making money from accessories.
The covers "cost $5 to make, and Apple sells them for $39."
"They sell 15m iPad units, 90% are smart cover-attached, that's $450-$500 million in profit they made for selling accessories for a device."