China Mobile ‘Still Interested’ In iPhone


China and Apple still in iPhone talks (photo: The Tenth Dragon)

China Mobile’s CEO Tuesday gave the latest hint Apple may still get its iPhone into the world’s largest marketplace by the end of 2008.

“China Mobile is still interested in [bringing the ] iPhone into China Mobile markets,” Marketwatch quoted Wang Jianzhou when addressing the GSMA Mobile Asia Conference. The carrier’s head didn’t provide details, citing a non-disclosure agreement with Apple.

China, with over 600 million mobile users, remains a highly-prized target for Apple. CEO Steve Jobs has said he expects to sell the iPhone in the Asian country by the end of the year.

A series of movements indicate recent activity in year-long negotiations that had been stymied by roadblocks over revenue sharing and technology. Last week, Apple posted a job opening for an iPhone Quality Engineer in Beijing. Cupertino, reportedly is under pressure to adopt China’s home-grown TD-SCDMA, rather than widely-used transmission technology. Such a restriction could cause Apple to release an iPhone for Chinese users devoid of Wi-Fi or 3G.

Although China talks appear to have reignited, a number of Asian countries have already announced plans to bring the iPhone to the area.

Monday, Taiwan’s largest mobile carrier Chunghwa Telecom announced it had inked a contract with Apple to distribute the iPhone 3G. Reports suggested Apple’s handset may be sold starting in December. When the iPhone does appear, Chunghwa will have to compete with grey-market iPhones coming from New Zealand, Hong Kong and the United States.

Last week, Thailand’s True Move, announced it had signed a deal with Apple. Although short on details, the company told Reuters it would begin selling the popular cell phone “in the coming months.”

In an possible attempt to head off blame for stalling the iPhone’s entry into China, Jianzhou said Tuesday the company is “open to all operators, all vendors, content providers and service providers,” according to MarketWatch.

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