China Telecom has become the second Chinese carrier to offer the iPhone 4S today, ending the exclusivity enjoyed by China Unicom for the last 18 months. The company announced back in February that it would begin selling Apple’s popular smartphone from March 9, and it has taken over 200,000 pre-orders in just the last week.
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China Telecom and Apple have officially confirmed that the carrier will get the iPhone 4S on March 9th. China Telecom’s 130 million subscribers will have access to Apple’s latest handset for $0 RMB with select carrier contracts. The device will be sold in 16GB, 32GB and 64GB flavors.
Having obtained the licenses necessary to launch its new iPhone 4S on the China Telecom network earlier this month, it was only a matter of time before Apple’s deal with a second Chinese carrier came to fruition. China Telecom subsidiary Beijing Telecom has now issued a press release confirming that it will launch the iPhone 4S from as early as the end of February.
Apple’s iPhone looks set to make its debut on China Telecom after the Cupertino company was granted a vital network access license needed to launch the device. The license is believed to be one of the final hurdles to overcome before the iPhone arrives with China’s third-largest mobile carrier.
The Wall Street Journal reports Apple may have developed a modified version of its iPhone compatible with China Telecom’s “CDMA-2000’ network. The device is set to make its debut in China this Friday, but as things currently stand, it’s to be exclusive to China Unicom.
If Apple was hoping to unveil its iPhone for customers of China’s third-largest mobile carrier in the world’s largest cell phone market, it may have to wait. China Telecom may have to delay introducing the handset until mid-2012, according to a Friday report citing supplier checks.
While Apple is still yet to announce its highly-anticipated iPhone 5, that hasn’t stopped a number of carriers from advertising the device and taking pre-orders. China Telecom is the latest to begin preparations for Apple’s fifth-generation device, reportedly taking orders from the end of this month.
To underline how important China has become in Apple’s overall sales, the tech giant’s new iPhone 5 will be sold by that nation’s three top mobile carriers by year’s end, according to a Friday report.
Apple’s iPhone is set to launch with a second carrier in China, breaking China Unicom’s current reign of exclusivity it has held since 2009. China Telecom — the country’s third-largest carrier with 106 million subscribers — is reportedly completing negotiations with Apple that will see the carrier selling the device before the end of this year.
During yesterday’s Verizon iPhone event, one journalist asked Apple COO Tim Cook whether or not Verizon had an “exclusive” on the CDMA iPhone.
Although the Verizon iPhone seems like a huge deal over in the States, in the grand scheme of things, one carrier’s not particularly important… but there are an additional hundreds of millions of CDMA-subscribers in other countries like China and India who Apple would also like to sell an iPhone.
Needless to say, then, Tim Cook said that Verizon’s deal was a multi-year contract, but not exclusive, meaning that the so-called Verizon iPhone is really the CDMA iPhone, and will creep out to other CDMA networks in the coming months.
Sure enough, Morgan Stanley analyst Katy Huberty told investors on Thursday that Apple was likely to strike deals for the CDMA iPhone with China Telecom and Reliance in India in the next few months. Those are the two fastest growing mobile markets on Earth: CDMA subscribers in India account for 20% of the country’s 670 million subscribers as it is.
The CDMA iPhone may be a big deal for Verizon subscribers, and people who want more competition and choice in the American mobile landscape, but let’s not forget the international importance here, which is arguably much, much bigger.