The tech world is abuzz with speculation about a TD-SCDMA version of Apple iPhone. However, I don't think now is the time for Apple to move into the TD-SCDMA market.
China Mobile is said to be dead serious about their TD-LTE plan. They want to see a multi-mode, multi-frequency modem up and running before the end of this year. Marvell Technology, thus far, is the only chip company that has publicly promised to meet China Mobile’s aggressive timeline for TD-LTE modem. We shall see what happens next.
As an addendum, here are some basic facts about China’s mobile landscape.
Apple’s iPhones have been available in China for some time. They operate fine both in 2G and 3G networks by China Unicom and China Telecom. But iPhones do not work in China Mobile’s 3G network. (China Mobile subscribers with iPhones can only use their phones in the 2G network, but not in its TD-SCDMA-based 3G network.)
Many Chinese consumers adore iPhones. But it’s a product largely beyond Chinese consumers’ price range. Apple’s iPhone 4, found in China’s popular online shopping site called 360buy.com, shows a price tag of 3,599 yuan ($569).
While both China Mobile and China Telecom pledged to increase subsidies for customers’ smartphones, IHS iSuppli’s analyst pointed out that a large quantity of smartphones in China are sold directly from brands to consumers—and not through the operators.
Chinha smartphone supplier market share (% based on units)
In its latest research report, IHS iSuppli found that Apple ranked seventh among smartphone brands during the first half of 2012 in China. Apple’s iPhones trailed both international and local brands, as Samsung took the number one position. China’s Lenovo stood at No. 2 and China’s Coolpad at No.3, followed by Huawei, Nokia, and in sixth place, ZTE.
There is one more reason why iPhone might not soon spark magic in China. As an EE Times reader commented on a “Yoshida in China” report earlier this month, in China, there are no Apple Stores. In the West, that multi-purpose storefront is a major advantage of owning an iPhone.
Yoshida in China: Apple falls to No.5 in China
Yoshida in China: Does China Mobile need iPhone?