Apple to Bring Wi-Fi-Free iPhone to China Three Months Early
Apple’s iPhone is coming to China, perhaps sooner than later. But when the handset finally arrives, it’s likely to lack an important feature: Wi-Fi.
Sources say Apple has formally requested a network access license to sell the iPhone in China, but the license is for a customized model in which Wi-Fi support has been disabled. If that proves true, then Apple (AAPL) has finally bowed to the demands of China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, which has been insisting that the iPhone run only on cellular networks.
As Matt Mathison, an analyst at Wedge Partners, notes, that’s a hell of a concession for Apple, which had no desire to customize the iPhone for the mainland market. “Apple was hellbent on having the iPhone be wifi-enabled,” Mathison told BusinessWeek. “The Chinese government has been just as adamant that it not be.”
Mathison added that now that Apple has conceded to Beijing’s demands, the iPhone may launch in China as much as three months earlier than expected. “We now expect it to come before the Spring Festival in [January] 2010,” he said.