Which company added over 50m new paying subscribers in 2013 alone? Yup, China Mobile. The company now has 763m customers, all of whom as of Friday can now buy an iPhone.
Success! No wonder Apple chief executive Tim Cook looks excited to be in Beijing. But it might not be quite that simple.
It was a quarter to forget for China Mobile. The world’s largest mobile operator on Monday reported an 8.7 per cent year-on-year drop in net income to Rmb28.37bn ($4.6bn) for the third quarter, well below analyst expectations of Rmb30.9bn.
The disappointing set of results, if anything, should bolster the case for the company to strike that long-awaited iPhone distribution deal with Apple.
Apple’s launch of its iPhone 5S and 5C has generated as much speculation over its business in China as it has interest in the models themselves.
Can Apple pull off a deal with China Mobile, the world’s biggest mobile carrier? Or would a better question be: is it too late?
China Mobile has this month quietly launched Jego, an app to rival Skype’s free voice-calling system, in an effort to extend its international reach.
Callers from outside China will be able to call China numbers (landline and mobile) for free. The app is now available on Google play and in Apple’s iTunes store.
One curious fact that hasn’t got in the way of the arrangement is that China Mobile and Apple have been locked in a long stalemate over the distribution of Apple’s iPhone. So could Jego mark the start of an Apple-China Mobile rapprochement?
Since 2009, state-owned telecom China Mobile had been trying to get regulatory approval to buy 12 per cent of Taiwan’s Far EasTone operator, in what was the first agreement by a Chinese group to invest in a Taiwanese one.
The problem: In 2009, Taiwan didn’t let Chinese groups invest in its core telcos. The two had hoped that might change, but it hasn’t. So, as of Thursday, the deal is officially dead – at least until Taiwan liberalises more, says China Mobile.
As mobile phones approach worldwide ubiquity, it’s easy to see that the countries with the biggest populations will have the most connections, with China and India in the lead.
But which companies are serving those customers? And which ones are set to capitalise on the growth in emerging markets? Chart of the week dials in.