Yesterday, we argued that the arrival of Apple (AAPL)’s iPhone in the massive China mobile market was inevitable. We quickly heard from a source in Beijing who bet us a steak dinner that “inevitable” would not be a synonym for “sometime in 2008 or 2009.”
In his words:
“Telco is still tough/sensitive. They get ideas–and then get reigned in by central.”
From “central’s” perspective, our friend reminds us, there’s no reason to be in a hurry to let Apple make a killing selling iPhones, when Chinese handset manufacturers could sell, um, iPhone-like phones, and thus keep all that money in the family. Since no major Chinese company can do anything without “central’s” approval, our friend is confident that, come Jan 1, 2010, he’ll be receiving his steak dinner.
(Our friend does say that if Apple makes the iPhone compatible with any SIM card and drops the revenue-sharing demand, the odds of his losing the bet are higher, but he points out that Apple will have to set up a manufacturing JV to produce the units in size.)