August 3, 2013
Will Apple Sell Millions Of Cheap iPhones To China Mobile Customers?
Those who consider themselves “in the know” claim Apple “needs to” or “will begin to” sell a cheap iPhone because some parts of the world simply don’t want to pay full price for a beautifully designed product.
They’re not entirely wrong; but it may be hard for your typical American to understand just how much a regular iPhone costs elsewhere.
So, if the point of making a cheap plastic iPhone is to sell it to as many people as possible, wouldn’t it make sense to offer it to a mobile carrier with, say, 715 million subscribers?
Apparently, Tim Cook is already on it and, according to Reuters, he’s been talking with the head of China Mobile Ltd., the world’s largest mobile carrier.
Just like poor ol’ T-Mobile before they were finally given the privilege to sell the iPhone, China Mobile already has some 15 million unofficial unlocked iPhones running on their network.
This could be a huge boon for both companies, especially if pure, unadulterated numbers will be the name of the game for Apple’s alleged “iPhone 5C.”
(Apparently it stands for iPhone 5 Color and not iPhone 5 Cheap, but I’ll never see it that way.)
The two have reportedly been in talks for quite some time. They were rumored to be cranking out a deal last May and once again last January.
Also like T-Mobile, China Mobile has been working to build out a proper 4G network that will support the iPhone.
Apple’s been working with them, as well, and rumors have it that the new LTE chips in the iPhone 5S could be truly global and work on a number of networks.
Yes, it seems the two are really trying to make this thing work.
You know, for the kids.
And it’s hard to say which company needs the other the most. Apple sure would like to sell to an additional 715 million customers and China Mobile wants to make sure these customers don’t leave them for some other, prettier company.
Last year, when rumors were flying that the two could finally be approaching a deal, I said it would be the biggest announcement Apple would make during the iPhone 5 debut event.
If they do decide to come down from their perch and offer the rest of the world a cheap, plasticky version of the phone they’ve sold millions of, a partnership with China Mobile could be even more important.
Because it’s not as if China Mobile customers don’t want to spend money on an iPhone (15 million already have), but a good percentage of those people might be looking for an entry-level phone, something cheap that works and will get them by.
I’ve never been a huge fan of the idea of a cheap iPhone, but when thinking about it in this way…an additional 10-20 million people (assumedly) who might get to pick up their first iPhone; this has to be particularly exciting for Apple developers and investors alike.
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