With every new story on the iPhone 5, it seems more and more likely to break sales records. This latest report suggests we will see the iPhone 5
available on the worlds largest network, China Mobile. Rumors suggest that the phone will also offer international 4G/LTE support, which will allow it to compete against the latest Android phones.
According to computerworld.com, the analyst Shaw Wu expects the iPhone 5 to be a "significant upgrade" and believes it will be available for Chinese customers on the largest network in the world, China Mobile. It seems after years of negotiation between Apple and China Mobile, it's worthwhile. Shaw Wu has based his statements from sources in the iPhone supply chain.
"One other key feature we are picking up on the new iPhone is that it will likely be a 'true world phone' meaning the ability to work with the world's various 3G and 4G wireless networks. This includes China Mobile's proprietary TD-SCDMA 3G network. There are currently 4G trials going on in China: China Mobile, which recently introduced LTE in Hong Kong, has rolled out commercial tests for TD-LTE in mainland China, and China Unicom has started trials for LTE as well. Since carriers have yet to obtain 4G licenses and there is testing ahead, we believe that widespread adoption for 4G in China will likely be 2-3 years out meaning strong 3G support is critical."
To understand the scale of this situation, you need to realize the size of China Mobile. The network has ~655 million subscribers, almost double the entire population of the US. Several million iPhones are already on the network, although through unofficial means. China has shown strong interest in the iPhone thanks to its growing middle class. If just 1% of China Mobile's subscribers buy an iPhone, that is 6.5 million iPhones sold. That's an incredibly conservative estimate - demand is probably much higher than this. China is a booming country economically, which means that Apple's success will be extremely enhanced if it can tap into the Chinese market. 20% of Apple's revenue in Q1 2012 came from China, it'll increase further if it can get China Mobile on board.