China Mobile Aims for a ‘Close Collaboration’ With Apple

China Mobile Ltd., the world’s largest mobile-phone company by users, aims to work with Apple Inc. on an alliance that may lead to an iPhone for the company’s fourth-generation TD-LTE network, Chairman Wang Jianzhou said.

“China Mobile and Apple hope to find a solution for close collaboration” on the TD-LTE network and compatible products, Wang said in an interview in Dalian today. “We discussed this issue with Apple. We hope Apple will produce a new iPhone with TD-LTE. We have already got a positive answer from Apple.”

China Mobile is looking to add the iPhone to help keep its lead over China Unicom (Hong Kong) Ltd. among subscribers who use mobile phones to surf the Web and download games or videos. Unicom is the nation’s only carrier that currently offers the Apple smartphone with a service contract.

China Mobile’s homegrown third-generation TD-SCDMA network technology isn’t compatible with current iPhones. Still, China Mobile attracted 8.5 million iPhone users to its second-generation network, Wang said today. Those users either accept slower Internet connections on the 2G network, or access the Web over the company’s Wi-Fi network.

The carrier got regulatory approval in December for limited trials of the TD-LTE network, which the company has said it aims to roll out for commercial use starting next year.

China Mobile had 37.6 million subscribers on its 3G TD-SCDMA network at the end of July, while China Unicom had 25.8 million subscribers on its W-CDMA network in the same period.

(Updates with comment from chairman in second paragraph.)
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