) popular iPhone has not officially been released in China, but China Mobile has apparently 400,000 iPhone users on their network.
Market research firm In-Stat (News
) said as many as 400,000 unlocked iPhones were running on China Mobile's cellular network at the end of last year.
In-Stat, attributing its story to China Mobile (News
), said Apple sold 3.7 million iPhones in 2007.
The 400,000 figure represents over 10 percent of the 3.7 million iPhones sold in 2007. “The figure is surprising as it is fourfold of that we estimated before,” In-Stat said. Analysts estimate that up to 1.5m iPhones are unlocked and in use worldwide.
Apple has fought off iPhone unlocking, but it does not seem to have won the battle over hackers. The lucrative revenue sharing deals Apple has signed with wireless operators do not apply if devices are unlocked to use on other networks.
In-Stat states the illegal iPhones show how urgent the need for iPhone's in China is. The firm said Chinese consumers want smartphones with multimedia features and Web browsing, and the iPhone fills that need.
In-Stat also estimated a 28 million potential users for the iPhone in China.
At one point of time, Apple discussed the iPhone with China Mobile, but the discussion did not become fruitful. Apple CEO Steve Jobs (News
) downplayed the significance of those talks, saying the companies just had a single meeting.
Narayan Bhat is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more Bhat’s articles, please visit his TMCnet columnist page.