A Wi-Fi iPhone for China, but It’s Not iPhone 4
Looks like a Wi-Fi-enable version of Apple’s iPhone is indeed headed to China–and sooner rather than later. According to a notice published by the country’s Telecommunication Equipment Certification Center, Chinese regulators have issued a network access license for an iPhone that supports “HSDPA and WAPI security mode with wireless LAN capabilities.” WAPI is China’s homegrown wireless standard.
Interestingly, photos of the approved device published by the TECC suggest it’s an iPhone 3G or 3GS, not the iPhone 4.
Evidently, Apple (AAPL) was willing to customize the device for a single market, something it’s been unwilling to do in the past. But it had very good reasons: Sales of the iPhone in China are widely believed to have been undermined by the device’s initial lack of Wi-Fi support.
With that issue remedied, sales through China Unicom could ramp up–a boon for Apple, which has targeted China as its next major geographic growth opportunity. Recall Apple COO Tim Cook’s words during a recent company earnings call.
China has been interesting. If you look at greater China which we define as mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan, the iPhone units were up year-over-year over nine times. We added another 800 points of distribution in China. The revenue, we have never released this number before but I will do this in this particular case, through the first half of the fiscal year that we just completed for the six month period our revenue from greater China was almost $1.3 billion and this is up over 200 percent year-over-year. So we are well pleased with how the company is positioned to take advantage of the growth in greater China.