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In boon for HTC, China Mobile sets 4G sales goal

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- China Mobile (中國移動) is targeting sales of 100 million fourth-generation (4G) mobile handsets for 2014, a goal expected to help HTC (宏達電) regain market share in China.

China Mobile will offer commercial 4G telecoms services in 340 Chinese cities next year. China Mobile is China's largest mobile carrier as well as the big kahuna in the global telecommunications sector.

Xi Guohua (奚國華), chairman of China Mobile, said on Wednesday that the company will build 500,000 4G base stations across China in 2014, constituting the world's largest 4G network. Xi was speaking during the China Mobile Global Partner Conference in Guangzhou, attended by 5,000 representatives from partnered equipment manufacturers and application developers including HTC, Far EasTone (遠傳電信) and MediaTek (聯發科).

China Mobile is targeting sales of 190 million to 220 million mobile handsets running on its wireless networks by 2014, with 100 million of those handsets running on its Time-Division Long-term evolution (TD LTE) 4G network, Xi said. TD LTE is China's homegrown wireless network standard co-defined with China Mobile, Datang Telecom (大唐電信) and Huawei (華為), as well as Nokia Siemens Networks, Alcatel Shanghai Bell and others.

“China Mobile's marketing focus next year is in handset sales, since mobile units are the foundation for mobile Internet development,” Xi pointed out. Xi predicted that the total number of TD-LTE mobile phone models will pass 200 and entry-level 4G smartphones will hit the market in 2014. He also revealed that 50 percent of those 4G mobiles distributed by China Mobile will be non-contract-based.

Although China Mobile in mid-July confirmed to Western newswires that Xi met Apple Inc. Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Tim Cook on matters of cooperation, HTC is steps ahead of the American consumer electronics giant.

In a research note, KGI Securities Investment Trust Co. said that China Mobile and HTC are set to launch four to six models in 2014 to get a bigger slice of China's booming smartphone market. KGI forecast that HTC's overall smartphone shipments could exceed 20 million units in 2014.

Collaboration with Apple Also Benefits Taiwanese Companies

China Mobile earlier posted an advertisement for 4G TD LTE services on its webpage that featured Apple's iPhone 5s and a bejeweled golden apple, suggesting that the carrier may soon be ready to accept pre-orders of 4G TD LTE iPhones, the Central News Agency reported.

Although Apple keeps mum about its TD LTE 4G iPhones, the anticipated partnership with China Mobile will eventually boost the financial profiles of some Taiwanese companies.

Apple's iPhones are assembled by Taiwan's Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. (鴻海精密) and Pegatron Corp. (和碩聯合).

The partnership between Apple Inc. and China Mobile Ltd. on 4G LTE services will increase iPhone shipments by 12 million units in 2014, according to a forecast by U.S. brokerage Morgan Stanley.

The projection of 12 million iPhones to be sold via China Mobile is based on an estimate of 195 million high-end smartphones to be shipped in China in 2014, Morgan Stanley analyst Katy Huberty said in a research note.

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