At Least 45 Million IPhones Already Active on China Mobile's Network

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Although there is still considerable confusion about whether Apple and China Mobile have formally signed an iPhone contract there is already doubt about whether such a deal would be the bonus that Apple is looking for.

China Mobile has apparently started taking pre-orders for the iPhone handsets in advance of its 4G network launch, although the head office denies any such deal between the two companies exists.

However, it has long been known that a sizable number of its customers -- in the many millions -- were already using an iPhone handset on its GSM network, with data limited to Wi-Fi access only.

The mobile network is now revealed to have at least 45 million existing iPhone customers. While many of them will want to upgrade to the newer models that will finally support cellular based data, they will have to wait for the mobile network's own 4G coverage to expand.

Apple had been seeing a possible USD3 billion in revenues next year from China, but the sizable existing market, increased competition from Samsung and home-grown vendors, and the state of China Mobile's 4G coverage are now putting that in doubt.

Such revenues would need at least 17 million fresh iPhone sales into the market, and there is doubt now that the 4G network would be large enough to generate such sales -- when put in addition to sales to other handset vendors.

China Mobile's 4G network is due to be activated for customers later this week.

On the web: Reuters

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Tags: apple iphone  china mobile  China 

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