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China Mobile walks away from the iPhone

Sharing revenues just isn't communist

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China Mobile has confirmed that negotiations with Apple, regarding a China launch for the iPhone, have broken down with no sign of resuscitation.

The sticking point, according to the Chinese news site Sina, was the revenue share that Apple wanted. This was purportedly 30 per cent, something that China Mobile was unlikely to ever concede to.

China would have been a good market for the iPhone; China Mobile's 362.8 million subscribers would have boosted sales in a market which still lacks 3G, so the iPhone really is the cutting edge.

Apple could still potentially do a deal with China Unicom, the only competitor to China Mobile with an elsewhere-impressive 120 million subscribers. However, it's more likely the company will wait until later this year when four 3G licences are expected to be awarded in China, creating two new competitors who might be more flexible.

Apple has managed to convince operators around the world to share the revenue gained from iPhone users, which is a remarkable achievement and will stand as the lasting legacy of the device even if every handset were to vanish tomorrow. Such a deal should be possible in China, though new companies are likely to want a 3G version to match their shiny new 3G licences. ®

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