The world’s largest mobile carrier, China Mobile, does not currently support or sell the iPhone. That might be changing, though. Reuters is reporting that the carrier has held meetings with Steve Jobs himself in regards to launching the iPhone on China Mobile, the world’s largest wireless carrier.
There’s clearly a demand. Apparently China Mobile, despite not selling the phone itself, already has 7.44 million iPhones registered on its network. This of course is done through unsanctioned means, but shows China Mobile users will go out of their way to get the iPhone on the network.
One of the roadblocks is that China Mobile operates on a different 3G standard developed in part by the Chinese Government. This TD-SCDMA network isn’t compatible with the two 3G radio variations currently in the iPhone. Those China Mobile subs using a jailbroken iPhone on the network only have access to the slower, legacy 2G EDGE network proving the iPhone’s popularity.
China Unicom is currently the only carrier in China to officially support the iPhone, but China Mobile offers a huge opportunity for Apple. Both carriers are state-owned and operated, but where China Unicom operates on traditional wireless standards, only 180 million users are on their network. China Mobile, however, reaches 97% of the Chinese population and has over 600 million subscribers. (Verizon and ATT combined have just 230 million subs in the US)
From the fake Apple Stores to the millions of 2G iPhones, the Chinese people clearly want the latest Apple has to offer — and Apple will not likely turn down the cash.