Good news for Apple on Tuesday: A big new market for its iPads is opening, and the fourth biggest wireless provider in the U.S. reportedly will soon be able to sell iPhones..
Apple will start selling the iPad in China on July 20 after paying $60 million to settle a dispute over the ownership of the tablet computer’s name.
Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) says it will begin selling its latest iPad starting at $499 and the older iPad 2 starting at $399.
The tablet computers will be sold online, at Apple stores, and through approved resellers.
Apple often brings products to China later than in other countries. The iPad model coming to China this month went on sale in the U.S. and several other countries in March. It features a sharper screen and a faster processing chip than the previous two iPad models.
Apple still dominates the emerging market for tablet computers, though Google and Microsoft are both coming out with competing devices.
The name dispute had threatened iPad sales in China, Apple’s second-largest market after the United States and the source of much of its growth.
Apple, which is headquartered in Cupertino, Calif., said it bought the global rights to the iPad name from Shenzhen Proview Technology in 2009, but Chinese authorities said the rights in China were never transferred. A Chinese court ruled in December that Proview still owned the name in China and the company asked Chinese authorities to seize iPads.
To settle the dispute, Apple paid Proview $60 million to gain the rights to the iPad name. The company won approval from Chinese regulators for the device in May.
T-Mobile Getting iPhones?
T-Mobile USA, the nation’s fourth-largest wireless carrier, could use parent Deutsche Telekom AG’s sales agreement with Apple Inc. to sell the iPhone in 2013, Sanford C. Bernstein analyst Craig Moffett is reporting.
Apple and Deutsche Telekom are “increasingly likely” to reach an agreement for T-Mobile to sell iPhones in the U.S. next year, Moffett, a New York-based analyst, wrote in a research note today.
Without the iPhone, T-Mobile has struggled to keep lucrative contract customers. The carrier lost 510,000 monthly subscribersin the first quarter while rivals AT&T Inc. and Verizon Wireless together added 688,000 so-called post-paid customers. More than half of the smartphones sold at AT&T and Verizon in the first quarter were iPhones.
“IPhone availability at T-Mobile USA would likely reduce contract losses at that company, and push Deutsche Telekom U.S. to a net revenue growth position much sooner than the market expects,” Moffett wrote.
Apple has traditionally made iPhone sales agreements with carriers in specific countries. These agreements include volume commitments, such as Sprint Nextel Corp.’s four-year, $15.5 billion iPhone deal last year that requires Sprint to sell about 30 million iPhones.
This year Apple has expanded its iPhone agreements beyond top-tier players. Regional pay-as-you-go provider Leap Wireless International Inc. and Sprint’s Virgin Mobile USA have started selling the iPhone with prepaid plans.
Steve Dowling, an Apple spokesman, wasn’t immediately available for comment. David Henderson, a spokesman for T-Mobile USA declined to comment.
The move to prepaid service suggests Apple is looking for more fuel to feed its iPhone growth, said Walt Piecyk, an analyst with BTIG LLC.
“Apple might be more willing to reduce their required commitment if sales are cooling,” Piecyk said in an e-mail.
One hurdle for T-Mobile is that its network hasn’t been compatible with any of the current iPhones. That has started to change as Deutsche Telekom pledged $1.4 billion toward network upgrades in the U.S.
The so-called fourth-generation wireless technology expansion has been key to Deutsche Telekom’s renewed effort to revive growth at T-Mobile USA and accommodate the iPhone. In a March 12 blog entry, T-Mobile’s Chief Technology Officer Neville Ray said “our 4G network will be compatible with a broader range of devices, including the iPhone.”
(The AP and Bloomberg contributed to this report.)