The iPhone has not yet been approved for use by the telecommunications regulatory body in China, but the thirst for the mobile device in that Asian country is fueling an Apple deal there.
Many industry watchers feel that a deal is very close between a Chinese wireless service provider and Apple to put the iPhone officially into China. Part of their belief is based on the extraordinary number of those apple mobile devices that have gotten into that country already, as well as the large number of apps that are available for the iPhone in the Chinese language.
It is estimated that there are already over a million iPhones being used in China, all of which have been smuggled into the country from abroad by returning vacationers or from some similar source. Now it transpires there are already a huge number of apps for the phone available in the Chinese language, according to a PC World article. These range from those which look up and translate English words to those which look up and display stock quotes. The apps are being written by both Chinese and foreign app developers.
For their part, Chinese users have responded overwhelmingly in favor of some of these applications. Apps that give directions through Chinese cities, and track traffic conditions in those cities, are among the favorites, as is an English dictionary in Chinese. Other native-language apps stream Chinese news and let users write blog posts on the iPhone. The most popular application is a messaging client called QQ, which already has almost a million registered users within China.
With that sort of appetite for the product in China, Apple is pursuing a deal for the iPhone with Chinese wireless giant China Unicom. Both parties have said in private that they would like to begin selling phones in China “œas soon as possible” but certainly by next year. Many well-to-do Chinese see the iPhone as a status symbol, as does Chinese youth. It is a huge market for Apple, and one which could send iPhone sales off the charts. It will be interesting to see how many legal iPhones can be sold in a country where there are already a million illegal ones.