A report in Reuters confirms China Telecom and Apple have reached a deal and the carrier will start selling the iPhone next month. China Telecom joins China Unicom to become the second wireless carrier to sell the iPhone in the Asian country. The carrier will start accepting pre-orders for the iPhone 4S starting March 2 and sales will begin on March 9.
China Telecom is the smallest of China’s three carriers with 113 million subscribers, while China Unicom, the other Chinese carrier with the iPhone, has 186 million. With over 600 million subscribers, China Mobile is the largest wireless carrier in the world and the only Chinese provider without the iPhone. China Mobile has worked with Apple to get the iPhone, but its TD-SCDMA network is not compatible with the handset. The carrier is rapidly building out its TD-LTE network with the hope that it can finally carry Apple’s next generation handset sometime in 2013.
Apple could use the boost in sales from both China Telecom and China Mobile as its market share in China is falling. In the last quarter of 2011, Apple is now fifth behind local manufacturer ZTE with a 7.5 percent market share. These figures, however, don’t include the iPhone 4S which landed in China in January 2012. Enthusiasm for the iPhone 4S was strong when it launched, but we will have to wait a few more months to find out how much of an impact the handset will have on China’s smartphone market.