Apple will start shipping iPhone 5S in China on September 20th, with its two old operator partners – China Unicom and China Telecom. China Mobile is also on board for iPhone this year, but the device launch has been delayed until November due to 4G licensing issues, according to Chinese Mydrivers.com.
Apple will hold satellite iPhone launch event in Beijing on September 11th, and executives from all three Chinese operators are invited to take part. Apple stores in China have also blocked all employee holidays from September 20th.
It is yet unclear whether the deal with China Mobile will be announced next Wednesday, or later. The reason China Mobile iPhone delay is the commercial 4G TD-LTE license for the operator, that Ministry of Industry and Information Technology was scheduled to issue around Chinese National Day (October 1st). That license has been delayed and now will be awarded sometime in November.
As soon as China Mobile gets the license they will begin selling iPhones with TD-SCDMA/TD-LTE support.
Lately Apple has been loosing the competitive position in China, with sales dropping 14% in Q2.
With 740 million subscribers, 180 million of whom are on 3G and shipping more than 10 million smartphones a month, China Mobile could give a strong boost to slowing iPhone sales. The addition of cheaper iPhone 5C should help even more. And the early focus and sales in the world’s biggest smartphone market, should make the impact felt already in Q4, instead of waiting for traditional Q1 China boost.
We may be looking at pretty exciting end for the year for Apple, after all.