China Mobile is in talks with Apple to sell the iPhone in China, the company's CEO said on Tuesday. But he's not keen on the type of revenue-sharing model that Apple has insisted on elsewhere in the world.
"Our customers like this kind of fashionable product," Wang Jianzhou, China Mobile's CEO, on the sidelines of the GSM Association's Mobile Asia Congress in Macau.
But in a speech at the conference, Wang said he doesn't like some of the new business models emerging in the mobile phone industry, including handset makers wanting to share revenue with mobile operators.
"We still think we can maintain the operator-centric model because we have the customers, the end-users," Wang said.
Apple has been signing exclusive deals with operators to sell its iPhone, including O2 in the United Kingdom and AT&T in the United States. As part of the deal, Apple requires the operators to pay it a portion of their iPhone subscriber revenue.
Apple has said it will roll out iPhones in Asia next year, and China Mobile would be a good catch for the company. It is the world's largest mobile operator, boasting almost 350 million subscribers at the end of September.
However, China Mobile is also a member of Google's Open Handset Alliance, a consortium of technology and service companies that will develop products based on Google's Android mobile phone platform, which will be a competitor for the iPhone.
Wang took a shot at today's music-playing phones. When phone makers add music players to their handsets, they tend to end up with a good phone and a bad music player, he said, and vice-versa for makers of music players.
The idea of connecting a mobile phone to a computer to download music is also undesirable, he said. Mobile phones should download music directly from the mobile network, he said.
China Mobile has already had some success with its own mobile music service. More than 60 million people are using the service, and more than 240 million music ringtones have been downloaded, he said.