China’s Radio Regulation Bureau, the people who dole out spectrum to the country’s operators, has recently announced that China Mobile will get 130 MHz of spectrum, whereas China Telecom and China Unicom will both get 40 MHz. During China Mobile’s Global Partners Conference, which kicks off on December 17th, it’s said that the world’s largest operator will finally announce that they’re going to start selling the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c.
Why is this important? China Mobile has 740 million subscribers. Let that number sink in for a second. They have more people making phone calls and sending text than there are people living in the United States and European Union, combined. So when they launch a new phone, it’s a big deal. Plus, 130 MHz of spectrum is no laughing matter. That means they’re prepared for the onslaught of YouTube videos about to be played over their network.
But aren’t there people in China already using the new iPhones? Oh absolutely, but they’re purchased straight from Apple, without a subsidy, and chances are they’re imported from either Hong Kong or Taiwan. With China Mobile offering the iPhone, they’ll be in a position to sell it with a contract, like iPhones are sold in the USA.
Is China important to Apple? Very much so. During every Apple quarterly financial earnings call, an analyst always brings up China, and Tim Cook proudly boasts how big China’s revenues are in terms of the company’s total sales. It’s a market with over 1.3 billion people, many of which are only now becoming “middle class”. What better way to show off your new found wealth than by buying an iPhone, iPad, and a MacBook?
Easier than buying a new Mercedes, that much is certain.