China Mobile (CHL) Backs Off Apple (AAPL) iPhone Again

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The cat-and-mouse game between China Mobile (NYSE: CHL) and Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) over the release of the iPhone in China continues. China Mobile has over 300 million subscribers and that figure is growing rapidly each quarter.

The chief of China Mobile told the world that there are no negotiations. He says the business models of the two companies like are not compatible. That probably means that Apple’s desire to share subscriber revenue from its phones is not in the cards if it wants to do business with the world’s largest cellphone company.

According to TMCnet "China Mobile Chairman Wang Jianzhou said Saturday that such business concerns have prevented the two sides from initiating talks to sell the Apple phone system in China."

The comments are a reminder that the Apple iPhone’s future in China is in trouble before Jobs sells his first handset through a carrier there. Tens of thousands of "unlocked" iPhones are sold in China, but, worse, so are a huge number of "knock-offs."

Apple is not going to get a revenue-sharing in China which means that once it does enter the market and gets access to the China Mobile customers, iPhone revenue expectations for the PC and consumer electronics will be very modest.

Douglas A. McIntyre