Feeds

China Mobile becomes world's biggest mobe operator

Didn't need any iPhone deal either

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

China Mobile's half-year profits topped $9.6bn, making it the largest mobile operator in the world by customers and profits, and six times bigger than the nearest local competition.

That $9.6bn profit is based on revenue of almost $40bn, stomping all over the local competition and topping Vodafone's annual figure of $18.82bn. The local competition is compared with this pretty graph at Penn Olson, which shows that China Telecom only managed one-sixth of its rival's takings, while China Unicom lagged well behind with a profit of only $406m despite (or because of) having an exclusive on Apple's iPhone.

That exclusive is costing China Unicom a huge amount in handset subsidies. Unicom is the only company of the three Chinese operators to see a decline in profits in the first half of 2011, and that's despite increasing revenues more than 22 per cent. It seems much of the cash, $478m to be precise, went on subsidising 3G handsets – most of which will have been iPhones.

China Mobile makes about £6.68 in revenue from each user each month (ARPU), which compares badly to Vodafone UK, which rakes in an average of £21.70 from every prepaid customer (£37.10 from those with contracts). But if you compare this with Vodafone India's ARPU of £2.34, it looks far more healthy.

China's mobile industry is still expanding as penetration is still some way off saturation. Around 900 million mobile subscriptions serve a population around 1.3 billion, so there's still room for expansion within China.

Not that the operators are limiting their horizons to their home country. China Telecom has been talking about launching a UK MVNO aimed at Chinese people living abroad (400,000 of them in the UK, according to the company) and recently expanded its European operations to look specifically at acquiring Western companies.

China Mobile is state-owned, so its profits go to the Chinese government. And its profits are unlikely to fall any time soon, especially with Tim Cook (now Apple's CEO) seen dropping by for a visit to lend weight to the rumours that Unicom's exclusive won't last long and that China Mobile will be getting the next iPhone for its 4G network.

Competition has certainly driven the Chinese mobile industry, but it is not clear how, or if, that competition can be maintained with one player dominating the market to such a large extent. ®

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
iPad? More like iFAD: We reveal why Apple fell into IBM's arms
But never fear fanbois, you're still lapping up iPhones, Macs
Sonos AXES support for Apple's iOS4 and 5
Want to use your iThing? You can't - it's too old
Philip K Dick 'Nazi alternate reality' story to be made into TV series
Amazon Studios, Ridley Scott firm to produce The Man in the High Castle
You! Pirate! Stop pirating, or we shall admonish you politely. Repeatedly, if necessary
And we shall go about telling people you smell. No, not really
Too many IT conferences to cover? MICROSOFT to the RESCUE!
Yet more word of cuts emerges from Redmond
Joe Average isn't worth $10 a year to Mark Zuckerberg
The Social Network deflates the PC resurgence with mobile-only usage prediction
Chips are down at Broadcom: Thousands of workers laid off
Cellphone baseband device biz shuttered
Feel free to BONK on the TUBE, says Transport for London
Plus: Almost NOBODY uses pay-by-bonk on buses - Visa
Amazon says Hachette should lower ebook prices, pay authors more
Oh yeah ... and a 30% cut for Amazon to seal the deal
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Backing up Big Data
Solving backup challenges and “protect everything from everywhere,” as we move into the era of big data management and the adoption of BYOD.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.