The 3G handset business isn't as easy as it looks.
Remember the difficulties the early 3G operators had in acquiring sexy, sleek W-CDMA handsets‾ And the problems with battery life and reliability‾
China's home-built 3G standard, TD-SCDMA, is years behind schedule. To the end of July 31, China Mobile had signed a grand total of 6,640 TD subs in Shanghai, its biggest market.
The handset newbie, Apple hasn't had to develop its own wireless standards, but it has a serious problem with the chip in the new iPhone. US consumers in particular are complaining that the phone keeps dropping voice calls and web connections.
Reportedly, the problem lies with the Infineon HSDPA-W-CDMA chip and apparently can be fixed with a software patch. Apparently. Apple and its network partners remain completely silent on the topic.
One problem could be that the iPhone pushes the limit of the new and relatively-untested Infineon chip. It may also be having trouble configuring the amount of bandwidth required to execute an application.
But the chip problem isn't the only one. The backend for MobileMe, the iPhone calendar and contacts syncing software, experienced a series of glitches, prompting CEO Steve Jobs to admit the company had over-extended itself by trying to push too many new products out the door at once.
Last week he controversially admitted the iPhone had a "kill switch" to prevent malicious apps causing damage to the phone or network. It's not clear just what would be "killed" - the phone, the user's connection or his or her account.
It all underlines the complexity of making mobile phones work on high-speed networks, not to mention Apple's high-handed approach to customer relations, to put it mildly.
Any other vendor or operator would be crucified. Apple has the credits in the bank to get away with it.