updated 11:30 am EDT, Thu July 7, 2011
China Mobile-badged iPhone spotted, coming soon?
Apple's iPhone may be soon officially sold through carrier China Mobile, which is the world's largest carrier thanks to its 611 million subscribers. A research note from analyst Brian White of Ticonderoga Securities pointed to a Sohu.com report of an iPhone with China Mobile ID and a TD-SCDMA connection that isn't available on any current iPhone model (pictured). Thus far, China Unicom is the exclusive official provider of the iPhone, though there are as many as 5.7 million iPhone users on China Mobile using stepped down connections.
He also referenced a since-deleted weibo message from a China Mobile employee that stated the iPhone 5 is due to arrive at China Mobile in September. If and when the iPhone arrives at China Mobile, it would likely need to support TD-SCDMA given the government's official backing of the 3G format.
Back in May, China Mobile CEO Wang Jianzhou said there were four million unofficial iPhone users on the network, so the additional 1.7 million marks a significant increase. China has been one of Apple's fastest-growing markets.