Apple is making moves that could cause its iPhone to be more compelling to the Chinese market, as it has been granted a license for the country’s WiFi.
The country has its own security protocol for WiFi that’s known as WAPI (WLAN authentication and Privacy Infrastructure). The Apple iPhone has been on sale in China for almost a year but Apple had to remove the WiFi before the handset was sold.
This move has been expected for a while and the license could indicate that a new version of the Apple iPhone will hit China soon. The Apple iPhone has seen limited success in the world’s largest cell phone market in part because of its high initial costs and mobile data requirements but the WiFi could make it a more attractive device.
It’s too early to tell when this will launch but China Unicom’s CEO has already said he expects an Apple iPhone with WiFi to land soon. China Unicom is the nation’s second-largest mobile operator with about 200 million subscribers. To put things into perspective, that’s more than the combined user base of AT&T and Verizon Wireless.
This move is interesting because Lenovo recently said that Apple CEO Steve Jobs “didn’t care about China.” In particular, Lenovo said its smartphone ambitions in China had a better chance than Apple because it had the cultural context to appeal to subscribers.
I cannot discount the importance of understanding the culture of your audience (I would point to the Chevrolet Nova in Spanish-speaking markets, but we all know that’s not true). I do believe that the Apple iPhone juggernaut will be difficult to slow down because it is quickly becoming a status symbol in the mobile world.
If nothing else, the Apple iPhone should help spur the competition in China, as the OPhones are starting to look pretty good.
[Via PC World]