China Mobile is doing its best to get around Apple's refusal to offer iPhones for its 3G network. China Mobile, the world's largest carrier by number of subscribers, has managed to hold on to its high-end customers by offering extensive Wi-Fi hotspots and other incentives.
The company is advertising and lining up enticements to bring iPhone users to the carrier, even though there is not a signed agreement with Apple to offer an iPhone for use on its 3G network yet.
Chinese smartphone users are being offered gift cards worth up to $440 and widespread Wi-Fi services. China Mobile announced it will increase the number of Wi-Fi hotspots in the country to 1 million in the next three years.
The strategy seems to have been working, as Wang Jianzhou, China Mobile chairman, announced that the company had almost doubled the number of iPhone users (opens in new tab) in its network in just four months. Now, with 9.5 million iPhone users, China Mobile has surpassed its rival China Unicom, and that despite the fact that China Unicom is the only Chinese carrier approved by Apple to sell iPhones within the largest mobile market in the world.
iPhone users cannot enjoy 3G speeds on China Mobile's network, as Apple hasn't released a compatible version yet, though they can use the 2G voice and WiFi data networks.