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Apple to start selling iPhone 4S in China

Apple will bring the iPhone 4S to China on Jan. 13, and the company says the talking advisor Siri will start speaking Chinese this year.

January 05, 2012|By David Sarno, Los Angeles Times
  • An iPhone user outside an Apple store in Beijing. Apple will start selling the iPhone 4S in China this year.
An iPhone user outside an Apple store in Beijing. Apple will start selling… (Diego Azubel, European…)

Siri, how do you say profit in Chinese? One answer Apple's digital assistant might give is: iPhone 4S.

On Jan. 13, Apple will start selling the device in China.

The company said Wednesday that China would be among 22 new countries that soon would get the newest iPhone model, one of Apple's hottest-selling yet. The iPhone now accounts for nearly half of Apple's annual revenue, and some analysts believe it earns the company more than 60% of its profit.

China is one of the world's largest mobile device markets, with close to a billion cellphone users by some estimates. Apple is already a partner with China Unicom, one of the larger carriers, with close to 200 million cellular subscribers.

Apple said it had no plans to announce a partnership with China Mobile, the country's largest carrier, with more than 630 million subscribers — a user base that is more than twice the size of the entire U.S. population.

Still, Apple has been rumored for months to be nailing down a deal with China Mobile, and millions of the carrier's customers are already modifying the device to work on China Mobile's network.

Will Siri, the talking advisor built into the iPhone 4S, be able to speak and understand Mandarin? Eventually, yes.

An Apple spokesman said the company planned to add support this year for a number of languages, including Chinese. But Siri won't be multilingual yet when the phone hits Chinese stores this month.

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