Tuesday, March 06, 2012

China Mobile boasts of 15 million iPhones on its iPhone-less network

T-Mobile USA previously said it had 1 million iPhones on its network, mostly jailbroken. As the No. 4 carrier in the U.S., we wouldn't expect a huge number of iPhones there, since the company doesn't officially sell the iPhone. What, then, of China Mobile, the world's largest carrier, which is in the same official iPhone-less situation?

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At 655 million, the state-owned company has the most subscribers of any in the world, far surpassing its rivals China Unicom and China Telecom, yet it still does not carry Apple's iPhone as those two do. Even without an official iPhone, the carrier has millions upon millions of iPhones on its network.

According to Sina Tech [Chinese], China Mobile has announced that it has surpassed 15 million iPhone users on its network, which also means the company has seen 5 million new iPhone activations, a 50 percent increase in devices, since just October.

Apple's focus on the smaller carriers comes from the fact that although China Mobile controls 70 percent of the overall Chinese mobile market, it owns a far smaller percentage of the country's 3G market, lagging the other carriers in moving to 3G, much less 4G.

All of these 15 million China Mobile iPhone users is operating ("putting up with") the device on China Mobile’s 2G network as Apple has not yet supported China Mobile’s 3G (TD-SCDMA) network with a compatible version of the iPhone.

That incompatibility, China Mobile says, will be remedied once the company completes 4G LTE testing in June. One can only imagine the a) land rush, b) scalping when the iPhone (5?) comes to China Mobile in LTE form, no less.

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