China Mobile to splurge on subsidies
China Mobile, the world's largest phone company, will spend more on subsidies next year as it tries to boost smartphone sales by as much as 42 per cent and lure customers to its new high-speed service.
The company planned to sell as many as 220 million smartphones next year, compared with 155 million this year, chairman Xi Guohua said at a developers' conference in Guangzhou yesterday, according to remarks posted on the carrier's official microblog account.
Those comments contained no details about the subsidy amounts or the status of talks with Apple to offer the iPhone.
Handset subsidies would expand next year from the 27 billion yuan (HK$34.4 billion) spent this year, Xi said, as the carrier sought to push more of its 759 million subscribers to higher-priced voice and data plans on the faster network. China Mobile has signed agreements with handset manufacturers including Lenovo and Xiaomi for devices that operate on the fourth-generation network, according to Xinhua.
"This 4G service creates a new future," chief executive Li Yue told the conference. "It will promote the popularisation of a variety of application innovations."
China Mobile received regulatory approval on December 4 to start commercial service on the world's largest 4G network. It would be marketed under the name "And", Li said.
Li did not mention talks with Apple in his remarks, and the Xinhua report did not list Apple among the handset makers producing 4G devices.
Apple was close to agreeing to a distribution deal with China Mobile, a person with knowledge of the matter said in September. The carrier said in 2011 that Apple, which does not make a handset compatible with China Mobile's 3G network, had agreed to make an iPhone for its customers once it shifted to 4G.
China Mobile handset sales next year would include 100 million 4G TD-LTE, or time-division long-term evolution, devices, Xi told the conference.
The carrier began offering smartphone discounts of more than 5,500 yuan last week on popular handsets such as Samsung's Galaxy Note II to lure users.
In Beijing, China Mobile currently offers 4G smartphones from Samsung, Sony, HTC and domestic vendors including ZTE, Huawei and the Coolpad brand of China Wireless Technologies.