China to get an iPhone without Wi-Fi?

Apple has reportedly been blocked from selling its regular iPhone in China, so it's applied for a Network Access License that would allow it to begin selling the iPhone without Wi-Fi.

Jim Dalrymple Special to CNET News
Jim Dalrymple has followed Apple and the Mac industry for the last 15 years, first as part of MacCentral and then in various positions at Macworld. Jim also writes about the professional audio market, examining the best ways to record music using a Macintosh. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CNET. He currently runs The Loop.
Jim Dalrymple

Apple may have blinked first in the ongoing battle with the Chinese government to allow the company to sell a Wi-Fi-enabled iPhone in that country.


The back-and-forth battle between Apple and China's Ministry of Industry and Information may be coming to a close. According to a BusinessWeek report, Apple has applied for a Network Access License that would allow the company to begin selling the iPhone without Wi-Fi.

In typical fashion, Apple has reportedly been hard-nosed in negotiations with the Chinese government over the iPhone. However, the government has been just as hard-nosed, refusing to allow Apple to sell the Wi-Fi-enabled phone in China.

AppleInsider guesstimates that the approval process for the iPhone would take four to six months, making a potential launch date no later than January 2010.

Of course, the iPhone is being used in many countries where it is not officially sold, China being one of them. The ability to unlock the phones and use them on any compatible network has made the iPhone popular worldwide.

Bringing a Chinese company, speculated to be China Unicom, on board as an official carrier would enable Apple to open the iPhone to a huge market of potential growth. It's unclear what the lack of Wi-Fi will do for the popularity of the smartphone, but it's obviously a concession that Apple felt was worth making.