The chairman of PC maker Lenovo says Apple is missing a tremendous opportunity in China and places the blame squarely on Apple CEO Steve Jobs.
"We are lucky that Steve Jobs has such a bad temper and doesn't care about China," Liu Chuanzhi told the Financial Times. "If Apple were to spend the same effort on the Chinese consumer as we do, we would be in trouble."
iPhone sales in China have been restrained since the phone debuted there last October. China Unicom announced in December that it had sold 100,000 iPhones, a modest figure considering China Unicom's 144 million total subscribers.
China Unicom is currently the only carrier authorized to sell the iPhone, although Apple has conducted on-again, off-again talks with China Mobile. The phone sells for $730 to $1,020 in China, according to published reports, much higher than gray market smartphones and iPhone knockoffs.
The phone has also lacked Wi-Fi. Chinese regulations had prohibited the sale of any Wi-Fi device that does not use the country's own wireless standard known as WAPI (Wired Authentication and Privacy Infrastructure). As a result, Apple introduced the iPhone with Wi-Fi disabled in order to enter the Chinese market without delays. However, due to a relaxation of rules, devices sold in China can now offer Wi-Fi as long as they also include WAPI.
Lenovo recently began shipping its new LePhone smartphone in China, its first venture into the smartphone arena. Liu said the phone is well-positioned to compete with the iPhone because it is customized for users in China.
"This is a very practical thing," Liu said. "The iPhone has more than 100,000 content providers, and we have no more than 1,000 But our Chinese customers feel our applications are very convenient to use."
Apple representatives did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Hong Kong-based Lenovo recently returned to profitability, recording a fiscal fourth-quarter net profit of $13 million versus the previous year's fourth-quarter loss of $264 million.