Analysts are buzzing this morning with speculation that Apple will soon announce a deal with China Mobile. China.org quotes Anand Ramachandran, a telecoms analyst at Barclays in Singapore stating that "The circumstances and the issues that were a hindrance in the past seem to be getting resolved. So I think there's a higher probability that potentially there's something in the works," between Apple and China Mobile.The buzz continues as KGI's analyst weighs in on the an Apple-China-Mobile deal this year. REPORT UPDATED 1:42 PM PST
Today, iDownloadBlog reports that KGI Securities' Ming-Chi Kuo predicts that the new iPhone, speculatively called the 5C, will be debuting on China Mobile's network in early Q4.
Last Friday China.org quoted China Mobile's Chairman Xi Gouhua as saying that both sides have shown "a positive attitude" in the ongoing talks to launch an iPhone that can run on China Mobile's network. While this is the flimsiest evidence to date that a deal will be announced this year, it's the source of the news that interested me most.
China.org.cn is a part of the official "China Internet Information Center." They are the authorized government portal site to China and under the control of the State Council Information Office. So when this site publishes a report titled "iPhone deal expected soon," I take note. While a government site may not know the official date of such an announcement, I don't think that it's much of a stretch to surmise that sources within the government would give their official internet news site a heads-up. Time will tell if that source pans out.
Back in January we were one of the first sites to report on the new rumors emanating from Taiwan surrounding a new possible iPhone for emerging markets. Other high profile tech sites rushed in to say that Phil Schiller had said that "Despite the popularity of cheap smartphones, this will never be the future of Apple's products." That statement was never actually made. Reportedly Phil Schiller had simply indicated that Apple wouldn't jump into that market segment without thinking it through.
The funny thing is that most interpreted Schiller's statement as meaning that an iPhone for the emerging markets would be years from now rather than it being something that had already been accomplished behind the scenes.
In Steve Jobs' most highlighted moment in 2007 when introducing the iPhone to the world he stated that "There's an old Wayne Gretzky quote that I love – 'I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.' And we've always tried to do that at Apple - since the very beginning. And we always will."
So to the naysayers who think that Apple threw together some kind of cheap iPhone plan at the last second to cave into moaning analysts, you just don't get Apple. Apple prepared for a mid-level iPhone years ago. They were skating to where the market was eventually going to be all along and plotted a quite course accordingly to bring us to this coming moment in time.
On one hand, Apple doesn't have to have Mobile China on board for their new iPhone lite to be successful in China. In fact, I'm sure that Apple's current mobile carrier partners in China would only be too thrilled to take market share away from China Mobile if they pass on a deal with Apple. And with Apple selling their new iPhone lite line-up into India aggressively, Apple will have more than enough territory to cover in the first year that a Mobile China deal for 2013 isn't going to matter much on paper.
Yet let's not kid ourselves: if Apple were to drop a bombshell at their iPhone event in September that China Mobile was onboard for the iPhone Lite, it would send a powerful shockwave throughout the mobile industry. That one announcement would roll over Apple's long list of naysayers in a nano second. It would be the buzz button that Apple needs to jolt the market with.
Today we learned that Apple may have added another powerful distribution source to sell Apple products in China. At the end of the day, it's clear that Apple is about to rock the Chinese market this fall in one way or another to once again silence their critics.
UPDATE 1:42 PM PST: It's now being reported by Reuters that Apple has given Foxconn (Hon Hai Precision) the green light to begin shipping both a new high-end and mid-range iPhone in early September. The news report repeats what we stated in this report - that the new iPhone 5C will be able to sell well into both China and India. Whether Pegatron was given the same instructions is unknown at this time. To celebrate the news, Apple decided to bring out the champagne and begin serving it in September.