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Concerns about the
iPhone’s revenue-sharing business model has kept
China Mobile Communications from negotiating with
Apple Inc., the CEO of China’s largest mobile service provider said this weekend.
China Mobile’s chief, Wang Jianzhou, told reporters Saturday that Apple’s current model, which requires operators to share monthly subscriber revenues with the iPhone maker, has prevented the two companies from formal talks.
Wang, however, said China Mobile hadn’t completely dismissed the idea of some sort of deal. “Our door will remain open as long as there is customer demand,” he said at an economic development conference in southern China, according to the state-run
Xinhua news service.
Earlier reports claimed that China Mobile and Apple have held informal talks, but that the Chinese company
broke off the discussions in January, also because it balked at Apple’s insistence that it receive 20 percent to 30 percent of iPhone customers’ monthly fees.
Apple has said several times that it will introduce the iPhone to an Asian market this year, but has not specified in which country or countries it will launch the smart phone during 2008.
Some analysts have said that, revenue model or not, Apple must take the iPhone to China at some point. “It’s all about China,” said Ezra Gottheil, an analyst with Technology Business Research, in an
interview two weeks ago. “Apple needs China to make those kinds of goals, and if that means doing without [the revenue-sharing business model] in China, they’ll just suck it up and do it.”
According to analyst estimates, Apple takes in anywhere from $10 to $18 per month per iPhone customer from its revenue-sharing arrangements with service providers.
“I think that they’ve already signaled that they could be flexible” on sharing customer revenue, Gottheil added. “They’ll take the straight profit from the iPhone if they have to.”
China Mobile, Wang also told Xinhua, has been adding 6 to 7 million new subscribers each month, and currently has about 380 million customers on its rolls.