It’s easy to get your phone on China Mobile’s service if you agree to all their terms. How many carriers allow their hardware vendors to exclude their branding on their offered devices? When your Verizon Samsung phone breaks, do you take it to a Samsung store to get it fixed, or return it to the carrier? How much storage space do carrier software packages consume on an iPhone? Right, none.
Apple wants to offer its unblemished product to the world and assume full responsibility for its functionality. Carriers want to treat phones as commodities, and have you throw them away when they break or misbehave. They most certainly don’t want you upgrading the software to extend their usefulness beyond the contract period.
So, who knows how many roadblocks China Mobile has been throwing up to wrest control from Apple over the iPhone? This isn’t a technology issue, it’s a control issue, and over how much Apple is willing to give up to be offered on their service. I’d guess Apple isn’t willing to give up much, or it would be agreeing to commodify the iPhone in search of marketshare, throwing away its cachet. To Apple, China Mobile is a dumb pipe, to China Mobile Apple it’s just another phone vendor, having no particular value beyond how much cash it can make by offering it. It will want to place the same constraints on the iPhone that it places on other phones, from stickers to crapware, to no software upgrades.