iPhone App Store Keeping Apple Phones Out Of China? (AAPL)


Apple (AAPL) is still having a hard time agreeing on terms so that China Mobile, the world’s largest mobile operator, can sell the iPhone. The latest hurdle: China Mobile — like many carriers — feels threatened by Apple’s wildly successful App Store, according to Interfax TMT China. (Via Digital Daily.)

The third and final round of negotiations also broke down over Apple’s insistence that it, rather than China Mobile, sell iPhone applications directly to customers via its online store. [China Mobile’s president] saw the offer as a threat to China Mobile’s dominance of China’s mobile Internet industry, as Apple rather than China Mobile would collect money directly from customers under the deal.

Anything’s possible, but we don’t see Apple giving up much control here: Just like it’ll never put a link to Amazon’s MP3 store in iTunes, we don’t see them giving up control (or a kickback) to mobile operators for the iPhone App Store.

In the meantime, Chinese people who really want iPhones have had no problem getting them. China Mobile said last February that more than 400,000 unlocked iPhones were running “unofficially” on its network at the end of last year. That could be millions by now.

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