updated 06:10 pm EDT, Wed August 3, 2011
Analyst says China Telecom has sure iPhone 5 deal
Ticonderoga Securities analyst Brian White pointed to a possible clue that Apple had largely finalized a deal for the iPhone 5 on China Telecom. Pointing to a Sohu news post, he understood the carrier had reached a "preliminary agreement" to carry two different versions of the iPhone as early as late October. The designs would include the genuinely new iPhone as well as the cheaper iPhone 4 version to help counter low-end Android.
As the second-largest carrier in China, it would be a major target for Apple. While only about 13 million to 15 million Chinese across all carriers are considered high end enough to be Apple's usual customers, the basic iPhone 4 would be enough to reach a much wider audience, White said. China Telecom has 108.4 million total subscribers, only some of which could afford an iPhone but might be within reach.
Sohu's claim hasn't been independently verified but would come after rumors with similar information, including a late October release.
The lower-cost design is believed to be a largely straightforward version of the iPhone 4 where plastic replaces the more expensive glass. Apple has often been hesitant to produce a completely different budget iPhone model but, since 2009, has taken an existing model and cut it down without sacrificing the core features.
Apple is known to have at least talked with China Telecom and is also courting China Mobile, the largest carrier and its likely ticket to major market share improvements.