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China Mobile pleads for compatible iPhone

Go on go on go on go on

China Mobile's inability to sell the latest tech is starting to hurt, with the company's head asking Apple to develop a TD-SCDMA version of the iPhone, please.

The call came during the company's annual results as the FT reports - Wang Jianzhou (chair and CEO of China Mobile) pointed out that RIM is prepared to create a China-Mobile-specific BlackBerry, so surely Apple could see its way to making a handset that China Mobile customers could use.

Rather than mandate a single technical standard as Europe did, or leave it to the free market to decide on a winner the American way, China requires each of its three operators to deploy different 3G technologies, with China Mobile being shackled with the country's own TD-SCDMA standard and starting to suffer from it.

China Unicom, with a mere 125 million customers, got the rest-of-the-world 3G-standard WCDMA, so can sell iPhones to its heart's content. China Telecom is stuck with CDMA-2000, but then it only has 43 million customers so hardly counts.

But China Mobile's half-billion customers are stuck with the locally-developed TD-SCDMA "standard" and can only hope that the sight of all those customers will seduce companies into making compatible handsets - it worked on RIM, so why not on Apple?

But RIM has a range of handsets, including CDMA versions for use on the US networks that still offer greater coverage than their WCDMA-based rivals. Apple has always stuck to the GSM/WCDMA path despite calls in the USA for the iPhone to be cross-network.

Sticking to one radio standard has distinct advantages, and Apple will not want to start creating local versions; but 500 million is a lot of potential customers that even Steve Jobs might not be able to ignore.

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