Many companies spend much energy and resources in developing a China strategy before they enter the world’s most promising market. Apple had not, explains internet consultant Paul Denlinger in Forbes’ China blog, and that might have saved their day.
For more than two years, China’s two leading mobile operators, China Mobile and China Unicom, jockeyed for negotiating position with Apple to become the official iPhone distributor in China. This was unusual: China Mobile is the largest mobile telecom operator in the world (more than 522 million subscribers as of March 2010), and it was not used to NOT having its way in business negotiations with any company.
Except for Apple. With Steve Jobs, they met their match.
For large state-owned enterprises like China Mobile and China Unicom, it is normal for them to ask for special changes and amendments because “China is different from other markets.” With any other company, they would get the changes they wanted. China Mobile wanted control over the App Store; Apple said no. And it went on and on.