China Mobile hopes to offer both Apple’s iPad and a version of the iPhone that supports China’s homegrown 3G mobile standard, comments by China Mobile’s top executive showed on Thursday.
China Mobile is “interested in the iPad” and has told Apple it hopes to see a version of the iPhone that works with the government-backed 3G standard it is using, Wang Jianzhou, CEO and chairman of China Mobile Limited, said at a news conference.
Wang’s remarks are the first from a Chinese company interested in offering the iPad. Apple has not yet said whether it will sell the device in China. The remarks also show China Mobile’s continued interest in offering the iPhone after sales of the handset started in China late last year through rival carrier China Unicom, whose 3G network is compatible with that of the standard iPhone.
China Mobile hopes the “next generation” of the iPhone will be compatible with TD-SCDMA (Time Division Synchronous Code Division Multiple Access), the 3G standard used by its network, Wang said.
To comply with Chinese regulations, Apple disabled Wi-Fi in the version of the iPhone now sold by China Unicom. It would have to modify the phone again to work with China Mobile’s 3G standard, which is not used on a major mobile network in any other country.
Wang’s remarks also highlight China’s push to get major Western phone brands to use the 3G standard. Another North American phone maker, Research In Motion (RIM), has already agreed to make a BlackBerry that supports the 3G standard, Wang noted while discussing the iPhone.
China Mobile is still in talks with Apple about offering the iPhone, Wang said. But he did not say if talks were being held about the iPad. China Mobile is interested in the iPad partly because it could tie in to work the carrier is doing on mobile reading services, Wang said. Chinese makers of e-readers last year prepared 3G versions of their devices for China Mobile as the carrier geared up to offer a large library of e-books for download.
China Mobile is the world’s largest carrier by its subscriber count of over 520 million. China Unicom has said it is in talks with Apple to offer a version of the iPhone with Wi-Fi.
Apple could not immediately be reached for comment.