China Mobile hits 15 million iPhone user milestone

China Mobile, the country's biggest mobile carrier, has announced that it has reached 15 million iPhone users, despite not being an official partner.
Written by Hana Stewart-Smith, Contributor

China Mobile, the country's biggest mobile carrier, has now surpassed 15 million iPhone users.

The mobile network has over 655 million subscribers, making the state owned operator the largest in the world. However, despite having so many iPhone users, the operator is not an official Apple iPhone carrier.

Although the iPhone has been a China Unicom exclusive up until now, many customers have refused to switch carriers, and China Mobile did not shy away from the possibility.

The company provides support for customers wishing to use the iPhone on its 2G network, and set up a website to give instructions for activating an iPhone on their service.

So far, China Mobile has been unable to partner with Apple over the iPhone because it currently does not support the 3G (TD-SCDMA) network the carrier uses.

The announcement comes only four months after China Mobile revealed it had reached 10 million iPhone users, which means that 5 million more iPhones have been activated on the network since October.

So far the iPhone 4S has been exclusive to China Unicom, and has been a success for the company. However this exclusivity is set to end this week.

China Telecom, the country's third largest carrier, announced it will start selling the iPhone 4S on March 9th.

Despite making the iPhone available through these networks, it seems that customers are still determined to use them on China Mobile, and Apple is losing out on a huge volume of potential subscribers.

The gap between the number of subscribers on China's three biggest networks is substantial. China Unicom only measures up to a third of China Mobile's with around 195 million, and China Telecom trails behind with only 62 million.

However, it might not be very long before China Mobile can become an official carrier for the iPhone. Apple had previously promised the company that it will provide an iPhone with LTE. China Mobile hopes to complete its LTE networking testing in June, making it a viable option once more.

Image source: Elizabeth Phung/Flickr.


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