Apple today announced the Wi-Fi + Cellular versions of iPad mini and the fourth generation iPad will be available in China on Friday, January 18. The iPad mini and the fourth generation iPad are currently available in more than 100 countries worldwide including the US, Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Japan and the UK.
The world’s largest mobile operator, China Mobile is not likely to have built-in cellular support since their nascent 4G network uses TD-LTE and their 3G network uses TD-SCDMA, both of which are incompatible with Apple’s current products. China Mobile does not currently carry the iPhone or iPad, although it operates a (2G) GSM network.
Presumably the new cellular-capable devices will work on China Telecom and China Unicom, the 2nd and 3rd largest carriers in China which support 3G speeds. iPad mini and the fourth generation iPad will be available through Apple retail stores, the Apple Online Store and select Apple Authorized Resellers. The iPad mini and fourth-gen iPad were released in the U.S. in October.
According a governmental report by the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC), an estimated 51 million new Chinese users accessed the Internet in 2012, for a total of 564 million online users, an increase of ten percent. The country’s internet penetration rate is now 42.1 percent.
Apple CEO Tim Cook traveled to China earlier this month and announced that the cellular iPad and iPad mini models would be launching before the end of the month.
If Apple supports China Mobile’s 3G (TD-SCDMA), it wouldn’t be a stretch to add 4G (TD-LTE), which would likely be compatible with Clearwire’s TD-LTE network and Softbank’s Japanese network, both of which use the same frequency, technology and infrastructure as China Mobile. Samsung, LG, HTC, Huawei, ZTE and others may get there first with Android devices.