China Mobile seeks handset tie-up

09 March 2009

BEIJING: China Mobile, the world's biggest mobile company in terms of market value, has held talks with handset manufacturers including Nokia, Samsung, LG and Sony Ericsson, offering to help co-fund the development of new technology that would boost its position domestically and internationally.

The company has 464 million subscribers and a 74% market share in China, but has not yet developed a satisfactory 3G platform – which would allow connection to the mobile web – after its TD-SCDMA system underperformed in trials last year.

According to chairman Wang Jianzhou, it is looking to help fund research by handset makers to improve its 3G service and develop its range of products.

Wang said the handset makers were "very excited" about the proposed tie-up, and argued China Mobile will "be focused on the domestic market" and will "step up our international expansion strategy."

The company is facing growing domestic competition from China Telecom, which BDA estimates will have 55.7 million 3G customers b 2013, compared with China Mobile's forecast total of 49.5 million.

China Unicom, on the other hand, is expected to have 142 million 3G users by the same date and, as recently reported, is also said to be in pole position to launch Apple's iPhone in China.

Data sourced from Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff