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Apple banks iPhone 5c success via China Mobile deal

Posted: 16 Sep 2013 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:smartphone? sensors?

On September 10, Apple officially introduced two new iPhones, including an 'iPhone 5c' based on Apple's A6 processor, available in five colours, starting at $99. Also unveiled on Tuesday, the pricier 'iPhone 5s' comes in three colours, promising improvements in the processor speed of A7. The iOS7 software features a fingerprint-scanner that can unlock the phone with just a touch.

The more important of the two is the cheap one, the iPhone 5c, because Apple's China strategy goes nowhere without it.

The day after the latest iPhones were rolled out, China's Telecom Equipment Certification Centre finally granted Apple the government licence it has been seeking for several years to run the iPhone on China Mobile's proprietary wireless network. Landing this deal is a milestone for Apple since more than half of the estimated 1.2 billion mobile subscribers in the country are registered under China Mobile.

It's not immediately clear whether Apple's new iPhone 5c, if carried by China Mobile, will support China Mobile's proprietary TD-SCDMA and its upcoming TD-LTE networks.

China Mobile has had limited success with its own TD-SCDMA 3G technology, lagging behind rival China Unicom and China Telecom in 3G network penetration, 3G network subscribers and market share. The blame goes to TD-SCDMA's incompatibility with other 3G networks in China, as well as the constrained TD-SCDMA network coverage offered by China Mobile.

If Apple's iPhone 5c immediately supports China Mobile's emerging TD-LTE, along with TD-SCDMA, this might look like overkill for the moment. But China Mobile is pushing LTE hard. It would be a major Apple blunder if the iPhone 5c isn't ready for TD-LTE.

China Mobile's plan to spend $7 billion this year to build its LTE network is not just the usual big talk. The plan is real, and China's largest mobile operator is proceeding with urgency. As Eran Briman, Ceva's vice president of marketing, told EE Times recently in an interview, "China Mobile hopes to leapfrog 3G" with a faster rollout of TD-LTE.

Key features of the iPhone 5c announced include: A6 processor, 4-inch display, 8 megapixel camera, and retina display. Phones come in five colour schemes (green, grey, light blue, peach, and yellow), matched by iOS 7 wallpaper, and a steel structure serves as an antenna. The 5c at 16 Gigabytes is priced at $99 with a contract; 32 Gigs will cost $199.

- Junko Yoshida
??EE Times

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