It’s becoming a familiar storyline: exclusive agreements to sell Apple’s popular iPhone are being threatened as more carriers want in on a good thing. In the U.S., the question has been who will join AT&T to offer the iPhone. In Asia, China Telecom is the latest name mentioned to join Apple’s current exclusive carrier, China Unicom. A report now cites a Deutsche Bank analyst claiming China Unicom’s exclusive iPhone arrangement could “likely come to an end early next year.”
Although China Telecom execs refused to confirm they’d begin selling a CDMA iPhone, “our own channel checks suggest that the company has been in intensive talks with chipset supplier Qualcomm and Apple,” according to the analyst’s report. China is often mentioned as a potential recipient of any CDMA iPhone. Additionally, China Telecom and Verizon both use the CDMA and EV-DO standard.
Thursday, J.P. Morgan analyst Mark Moskowitz lent further credence to the China Telecom rumor, telling investors he forecast “the introduction of a CDMA iPhone first with Verizon in early 2011 and then China Telecom in early to mid-2011.”
China Telecom is not that nation’s only carrier hoping to sell the iPhone. China Mobile, although the largest mobile carrier, is a bit of a black horse in the competition. The carrier’s CEO insists Apple use the home-grown TD-SCDMA as an alternative to 3G, a move that would bypass paying royalties to Nokia and Qualcomm.
Apple’s original iPhone partner, China Unicom, is enjoying success with the recently-released iPhone 4, which began sales in China on September 25. At one point, the carrier reported selling 100,000 iPhone 4s in four days. Such high demand prompted the carrier to warn it might not be able to fulfill all preorders until later October.