China nears 1B mobile connections as 3G popularity rises

It's no surprise that China's mobile market is highly coveted by any handset manufacturer. According to a new report from Wireless Intelligence, reported by GigaOm, China is approaching the 1 billion mark for mobile connections, largely due to the popularity of 3G, which accounts for nearly 25 percent of subscribers.

It's no surprise that China's mobile market is highly coveted by any handset manufacturer. According to a new report from Wireless Intelligence, reported by GigaOm, China is approaching the 1 billion mark for mobile connections, largely due to the popularity of 3G, which accounts for nearly 25 percent of subscribers.

China's mobile connections grew almost 17 percent from 2010 to 2011. China Mobile, China Unicom, and China Telecom are the big three cellular service providers in China, though only China Unicom currently offers Apple's iPhone.

Screenshot by Joe Aimonetti

If anything is an indication of the popularity of mobile devices like the iPhone, the scene at Apple's flagship store in Beijing certainly was that. As throngs of mainland Chinese lined up for the iPhone 4S launch, a barrage of eggs began flying when Apple announced it would not open due to security concerns over the amount of people lined up.

The Chinese government has been slow to accept incoming technologies like the iPhone in the past, though recent approvals (the iPhone debuted in China in 2009) of devices have given Apple the ability to pursue the vast potential of the emerging Chinese market. In fact, 3G now accounts for 80 percent of new connections in China, many of which are on China Unicom's network.

China Mobile, the largest carrier in China (648.7 million connections), is thought to have millions of iPhones running on their 2G network, according to the Wireless Intelligence report.

China Unicom is currently offering free iPhone 4S handsets when customers commit to a three-year contract and pay a hefty deposit upfront. Deals like this show the importance for Unicom to gain market traction in the 3G space while China Mobile's vast subscriber base is stuck primarily on 2G.

As Tim Cook stated last fall ( backed by analyst numbers ), China is now the most important market to Apple's continued success in the mobile phone industry.

About the author

    Joe is a seasoned Mac veteran with years of experience on the platform. He reports on Macs, iPods, iPhones and anything else Apple sells. He even has worked in Apple retail stores. He's also a creative professional who knows how to use a Mac to get the job done.

     

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