Summary:

Apple has cleared a regulatory hurdle in China for selling a 3G device there. But what is it? The latest iPhone and older iPads are already available, but the newest iPad is still a question mark. Is this a sign its Chinese debut is near?

Great Wall Of China
photo: Corbis

Apple on Wednesday cleared a regulatory hurdle in China for selling a 3G device in the country. But what is it?

The Wall Street Journal reports:

According to the website of China’s Telecommunication Equipment Certification Center, an Apple device with third-generation, or 3G, data capabilities has been issued the license needed for the company to begin sales in China.

The device would be compatible with the network of China Unicom (Hong Kong) Ltd., Apple’s longtime partner in releasing its popular iPhone and iPad devices. The notice on the website didn’t name the device, listed as “model number A1430.”

Apple, of course, makes its products in China and sells a whole lot of them there, including the latest iPhone and older versions of the iPad. But while the newest model iPad is on store shelves in 56 countries since debuting in March, China has been a glaring holdout.

In late March a Wi-Fi-only version of the device was approved by Chinese regulators, but it never went on sale. And it likely has a lot to do with Apple’s ongoing battle with Proview, the Taiwanese company that claims it owns the iPad trademark in China. The two sides have flirted with settling, but there has been no resolution to the dispute. But this latest approval could mean the pieces will be in place should it eventually be resolved.

Apple has to find a resolution to the situation — not only China is key to Apple’s ability to make its products as efficiently as possible, it is perhaps more so to growing its product sales in the highly populous nation. As of April estimates showed that there were 21 million iPhones and iPads being used in China, but because of the enormous growth prospects, it is considered by the company to be its most important market after North America.

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