Apple's iPhone 6 still one license away from elusive China launch

Thu Sep 18, 2014 9:23am EDT
 
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By Gerry Shih and Paul Carsten

BEIJING (Reuters) - Apple Inc AAPL.O is still awaiting a critical license from Chinese regulators before it can sell its new iPhone 6 in one of the company's most important markets.

The official Xinhua news agency said on Thursday that Apple's new iPhone had been given regulatory approval for use on domestic frequencies, but the phone cannot be sold in China until a key network license is granted. The Xinhua report did not indicate when this is likely to happen.

Speculation and uncertainty have surrounded the iPhone's status in China. Adding to confusion, a Reuters review of documents posted on the regulator's website showed the approval publicized by Xinhua may in fact have been granted as early as July.

The delay to the launch of the new iPhone has hit shares of both Apple and domestic telecom carriers in China, one of Apple's most important markets.

Apple's silence has sparked speculation that it has encountered difficulty obtaining the requisite licenses from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), which tests phones before they may enter national telecom networks.

One industry source familiar with the certification process said the MIIT usually takes one to two months to approve a new phone.

Apple has not issued any comment about the iPhone's China launch, aside from saying it is working to bring the device to the market as soon as possible.

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Apple Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Tim Cook speaks during an Apple event to announce the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus at the Flint Center in Cupertino, California, September 9, 2014. REUTERS/Stephen Lam