The New Smartphone Battleground Is China: RIM and Apple to Fight

Research In Motion Ltd. has made big pushes into China recently, and Apple seems to have taken notice. Its response? A Wi-Fi enabled iPhone. While Wi-Fi is certainly old hat if you live in the Western Hemisphere, China has been forcing phone manufacturers to either adopt its domestic Wi-Fi standard (one not used anywhere else in the world) or leave out Wi-Fi in their phones. The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Apple has decided to take the third option: putting both the much more popular standard version of Wi-Fi in its phones and the domestic standard (to bypass regulations).

While the Wi-Fi enabled Chinese version of the iPhone is not expected to be the iPhone 4 (instead a 3G or 3GS), this might mean problems for Research In Motion Ltd. (RIM), who has seen its international sales fall recently. RIM has just started rolling out its first officially available BlackBerrys for the Chinese consumer market, but Apple seems to be set to stop them from becoming widely adopted. Furthermore, a Chinese version of the BlackBerry App World has still not yet been released but Apple has had a version of iTunes available in the world’s most populated country for a while now.

Apple already has had a considerable head-start on RIM since it released the iPhone back last October, and RIM has been desperately trying to play catch-up. The inclusion of Wi-Fi would only help Apple woo more consumers over to its side in the smartphone battle that is sure to start ramping up in the coming months. China potentially has the most consumers of any country in the world. Winning a large share of the ever growing market there is essential to both company’s game plans.

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