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Apple ChiPhone set for July?

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A few tantalizing tidbits surfaced today indicating that the iPhone's long-awaited entry into the Chinese market will occur next month and that the ChiPhone will include three communications methods: "EDGE (enhanced data rates for GSM evolution), 3G and China's related standards."

The report comes from the China Economic News Service (CENS) and focuses on a few Taiwanese companies and how they will benefit from being iPhone parts suppliers. In discussing the companies' good fortune, the report says that "the third version of iPhone ... is scheduled to be officially launched in China early July."

If, indeed, the article is correct, the launch will be a monster win for Apple, which has long been negotiating for access to that market. Talks with the largest Chinese wireless telecom, China Mobile, reportedly broke down over a year ago. More recently came a report that competitor China Unicom was deep in iPhone discussions with Cupertino.

Now comes Monday's CENS article, which says that the soon-to-be-released ChiPhone will support "China's related standards." The twist here is that this January China awarded three 3G-network licences: the uniquely Chinese TD-SCDMA to China Mobile, Qualcomm's CDMA-2000 to China Telecom, and the popular WCDMA to China Unicom.

And here's where the tea-leaf reading begins. Which of "China's related standards" is CENS referring to? According to a recent report by Business Monitor International, 2009 will see "significant development and growth in the 3G market," with China Mobile advancing its TD-SCDMA coverage and China Unicom doing the same with WCDMA.

Now, TD-SCDMA is a full-on Chinese standard, which WCDMA isn't - but the latter is, of course, a standard used in China. You can see the problem: We're reduced to parsing sentence structure in the CENS report in order to make a confident prediction as to whether China Mobile or China Unicom will carry the ChiPhone.

But no matter. What is of interest is that the CENS report confidently states - not predicts - that the ChiPhone will arrive in July.

Also of interest in the CENS report is that two Taiwanese connector manufacturers, Cheng Uei Precision Industry and Advanced Connectek, will benefit from the fact that "Apple is expected to consume up to 40 million dock connectors for sale with iPhone and iPod in the second half of this year."

Considering that during the first quarter of this calendar year Apple sold 3.8 million iPhones and 11 million iPods, that 40 million pile of connectors seems to indicate that Cupertino believes that there's growth to be found even in the midst of the Meltdown. ®

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