Apple, China Mobile Still in Talks Over iPhone Distribution in China

Wireless carrier China Mobile has confirmed that the company is still in talks with Apple about offering the iPhone in China even though rival China Unicom last week announced a distribution deal for the handset. According to Macworld, the talks between Apple and China Mobile, the world’s biggest carrier by subscribers, yet to reach a conclusion, as confirmed by a China Mobile spokeswoman on Tuesday. An Apple spokeswoman confirmed the company’s three-year distribution deal with China Unicom is not exclusive, but did not say if the company is in talks with other potential partners.

Rival China Unicom will offer the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS, with the first handsets going on sale in the fourth quarter. China Mobile began iPhone negotiations with Apple two years ago, but China Unicom, which operates a 3G network compatible with the iPhone, became seen as the favorite for an iPhone deal in recent months.

One complication in China Mobile’s negotiations with Apple was the carrier’s plan for its own mobile application store served as a potential competitor with Apple’s App Store. Another was China Mobile’s use of a mobile standard for its 3G network that was domestically developed and is not compatible with current iPhone models..

The app store and 3G standard snags could remain in any talks. The China Mobile download store went online last month and supports handsets including “Ophones,” or devices that run a China Mobile operating system but have a layout very similar to an iPhone.

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