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China Mobile hasn’t launched the iPhone 5 because Apple is too hard to cut a deal with

China Mobile iPhone 5

Apple’s (AAPLiPhone 5 is headed to China next week on the country’s second-largest mobile carrier China Telecom. But do you know who’s not getting the iPhone 5? China Mobile, China’s largest mobile carrier and the world’s biggest wireless service provider with 703 million subscribers. Speaking at the 2012 China Mobile Worldwide Developer Conference, China Mobile’s president Li Yue told attendees “technology is not a problem, [it is] mainly about business model and benefit-sharing issues.”

Yue’s statement refutes the belief that China Mobile isn’t getting the iPhone 5 because it uses TD-SCDMA, a 3G frequency developed by the Chinese Academy of Telecommunications Technology that is incompatible with global GSM and CDMA network devices. If China Mobile is to get the iPhone 5, Apple would need to build a custom model to support TD-SCDMA’s frequencies.

According to Unwired View’s understanding, Yue suggests “Apple and China mobile are now engaged in negotiations about order commitments, price, subsidy amounts and revenue sharing.”

Will Apple build a special model of its iPhone 5 specifically for China Mobile? It’s hard to tell, but 15 million China Mobile customers using iPhones on 2G reveals there’s huge demand for the smartphone, even if it is just for the status symbol.

Apple’s nonexistent official presence on China Mobile is good news for competitors such as Samsung’s (005930), though. The Korean company has seen its market share in China triple as of March, with growth only increasing thanks to its lineup of Galaxy devices.

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