China Mobile CEO Wang Jianzhou said he will "keep all options open" on the introduction of the iPhone in China, Paul Midler reports.
In January, a China Mobile executive announced that talks had broken off over Apple's desire for control. Now, Wang says talks have not "officially" begun.
China Mobile is the largest mobile provider in China, a market that is projected to reach $2.8 billion by 2010, and urban China is by no means a no-iPhone zone. Apple develops more advanced locking techniques at roughly the same rate unlocking techniques make their debut in electronics markets worldwide.
Street prices for imported and unlocked iPhones vary with the news about any official sales in China. After January's news of the breakdown in China Mobile talks, prices spiked. But I suspect the gray market will not die even if China Mobile and Apple make a deal.
Apple products, even though they are made in China (my MacBook was shipped direct from Suzhou, near Shanghai), tend to be more expensive here. I overheard a Chinese couple in the Bainaohui electronics market at Chaoyangmen yesterday getting ready to buy a MacBook Air for about $2,700 (compared with about $1,800 in the United States). In a less extreme example a few weeks ago, the Beijing price at an authorized dealer for my friend's new MacBook was about $300 higher than in the United States or even Hong Kong.
No doubt, if the higher prices continue to dominate, people will keep asking friends to pick up iPhones in the United States or elsewhere to be unlocked here.
The Reuters article that Midler links to reminds us that iPhone talks are under way with NTT DoCoMo in Japan. Maybe the trip for gray market phones won't be as far...