By Philip Elmer-DeWitt
May 12, 2010

The world’s largest cellphone carrier also wanted the iPhone, but hasn’t got it yet

China Mobile (CHL) chairman Wang Jianzhou told shareholders Wednesday that the company is interested in selling Apple’s (AAPL) iPad in China, according to a Reuters report.

Apple announced last week that its tablet computer is coming to Hong Kong and Singapore in July, but hasn’t revealed plans for selling it in mainland China.

Wang’s remarks, made at China Mobile’s annual shareholders meeting, echo a series of public comments he made during the protracted negotiations with Apple for the rights to carry the iPhone in the world’s largest cellphone market — rights that China Mobile (with more than 500 million subscribers) ultimately lost to its smaller rival China Unicom (CHU).

After a slow start, sales of the iPhone grew nine-fold year over year in greater China (which includes Hong Kong and Taiwan), according to remarks made by Apple COO Tim Cook last month. China Unicom announced Wednesday that it was increasing its iPhone subsidies — effectively lowering prices — in an effort to boost demand for its 3G mobile service, according to the
Wall Street Journal

China Mobile says it’s talking to Apple about developing a next-generation iPhone that runs on its home-grown 3G mobile standard — TD-SCDMA — accord to the Reuters report.

Due to government restrictions, the iPhones currently sold on the mainland do not support Wi-Fi, although recent reports suggest that those restrictions may soon be lifted.

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