Apple's Jobs wants iPhone for China Mobile

BEIJING Fri Mar 4, 2011 6:47am EST

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BEIJING (Reuters) - Apple chief executive Steve Jobs has expressed interest in developing an iPhone based on China Mobile's fourth-generation telecoms standard, the chairman of the Chinese telecoms operator said on Friday.

"Jobs has said he's very interested in developing an iPhone that will run on TD," China Mobile Chairman Wang Jianzhou said on the sidelines of the Chinese Communist Party's consultative meeting.

Apple officials were not immediately available for comment.

China Mobile, the world's largest mobile carrier by subscribers, is currently testing a fourth-generation network that runs on its homegrown TD standard, and is looking to smartphone operators to design phones that support the system.

The company has been talking to Apple for years to develop an iPhone that runs on its homegrown 3G TD-SCDMA standard, but rival China Unicom remains the only operator to sell the phone as it runs on the global data standard.

The smartphone's exclusive availability through China Unicom has crimped sales of the device in China because of China Unicom's smaller subscriber pool, and number portability is not allowed in the country.

A Shanghai listing remains China Mobile's top priority this year, Wang said, so that Chinese investors who are unable to invest in its Hong Kong-listed stock due to the country's closed capital account will be able to do so.

"We are ready to list in Shanghai any time the authorities have decided on the kind of shape it will take," Wang said.

Other companies such as HSBC, Standard Chartered and Lenovo have all said they want to list in Shanghai when its international board is ready, with the city having said it may launch it by this year.

China Mobile also has no plans to issue yuan bonds in Hong Kong, Wang said, where growing demand for the Chinese currency at the nascent offshore market in the former British territory has pushed down yields.

The low cost of borrowing, with yields in Hong Kong about 100 basis points lower than comparable bonds in China, has already prompted a number of multinationals such as McDonalds and Caterpillar to issue offshore yuan bonds.

(Reporting by Kelvin Soh; Editing by Will Waterman)

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