iPhone 6 lacks key license from China

By Zhang Ye Source:Global Times Published: 2014-9-19 0:08:01

Apple phones need it before going on sale on mainland, have received radio transmission approval

An Apple store in Beijing Photo: IC


Apple Inc's latest flagship smartphone models have received the radio transmission equipment type approval certificate from China's top information technology watchdog, but still lack another key license to enter the Chinese mainland market, the Xinhua News Agency reported Thursday. 

Analysts said that this indicates that the highly anticipated devices - iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus - can be shipped to the Chinese mainland as soon as they get a network access license, but it is hard to tell when that license will be granted.

Fax inquiries to the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) by the Global Times got no replies by press time. Calls to an Apple spokeswoman remained unanswered either.

"Usually, it takes one to two months for the MIIT to grant a network access license," Wang Yanhui, head of Shanghai-based Mobile China Alliances, told the Global Times Thursday.

The radio transmission equipment type approval is granted to handsets that meet China's spectrum requirements to function well in the country, said the report, citing the MIIT.

Apple reportedly obtained the radio transmission equipment type approval certificate for the iPhone 5 on September 27, 2012, and was granted an Internet access license on November 29, 2012.

But this time, the iPhone 6 series, launched on September 9, will likely need a longer time mainly due to information security concerns, said Wang.

Powered by Apple's latest operating system, iOS 8, the iPhone 6 series, features the iCloud Drive service, allowing users to browse and store files via Apple's servers.

Apple released the iOS 8 for worldwide users of its iPhone and iPad devices on Wednesday (US time).

This feature may generate potential threats to information security and even national security, Xiang Ligang, CEO of telecom industry information portal cctime.com, told the Global Times Thursday.

"Most Apple servers are not set up in China, which means the information shared on the servers can escape Chinese authorities' Internet censorship," said Xiang.

China started to pay more attention toward the information security issues in recent years, especially after the disclosure of Edward Snowden in 2013 about the US government's attempts to collect private data from services offered by companies like Microsoft and Google.

Both Wang and Xiang said it is hard to predict the shipment date of iPhone 6 to the Chinese mainland.

"It depends on how smoothly the talks between Apple and the Chinese government progress. Apple needs to block the iCloud Drive service, if it wants to sell the iPhone 6 in the world's largest smartphone market," Xiang noted.

A report released by Beijing-based market research firm Analysys International in early August showed that the sales of smartphones in the Chinese market surged 33.5 percent year-on-year, hitting 102.98 million units in the second quarter of the year.

"Apple may lose some consumers, as it missed China's high season for smartphone sales in September. And the delay of the iPhone 6's entrance into the mainland may give a little more time for the development of domestic high-end smartphones," said Xiang.

According to Analysys International, Apple was the sixth-largest handset vendor in the Chinese mainland market by sales with 6.3 percent, lagging behind domestic players such as Xiaomi and Huawei, while South Korea's Samsung led the market with 15.4 percent.

Wang is optimistic about the iPhone 6 series' market performance in China, especially that of the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus.

On Friday, the iPhone 6 is scheduled to ship to nine countries and regions such as the US and Hong Kong, excluding the Chinese mainland. It will go on sale in the US for $649.

Despite the exclusion of the Chinese mainland in the first batch of markets, consumers' enthusiasm for the iPhone 6 still appear to be strong, raising the demand for smuggled devices.

Vendors in Beijing's Zhongguancun electronics markets have reportedly priced the 16 GB iPhone 6 at 16,000 yuan ($2,606). According to the Xinhua News Agency, black market resellers are charging $3,000 for the iPhone 6 Plus amid Chinese consumers' demands. 

Posted in: IT

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