China Mobile has surpassed 15 million iPhone users, despite not being able to sell the device legally or have a system that actually supports the extent of the phone’s capabilities. The company has seen 5 million new iPhone activations since October, despite lacking an actual Apple partnership to sell the phones in China.
Remember, there was a decent amount of buzz when T-Mobile sold 1 million iPhones to US subscribers. China’s blowing that out of the water, despite the fact that its 3G network can’t even support the iPhone’s infrastructure, which has been the primary reason China Mobile has given for not selling the iPhone.
Its 15 million iPhone users jailbreaked their phones to use the service, despite the downgrade to 2G due to incompatibility.
China Mobile claims the incompatibility will be remedied following completion of LTE network testing this June, the Next Web reported.
Despite the popularity of jailbroken iPhones, Apple has dropped to fifth place in the Chinese mobile market share, according to a Gartner study.
Apple is set to end its exclusive deal to sell the iPhone with China Unicom, with China Telecom opening sales of the iPhone 4S later this week.
Analysts at Morgan Stanley predict that China Mobile could sell 60 million more iPhones by the end of 2013. With the largest number of subscribers of any teleco in the world at 655 million, the number of China Mobile iPhone fans will likely become exponential, once the country has a network in place that can fully take advantage of the phone’s potential.