The iPhone 4S and its crazy clever digital assistant Siri will arrive in China on January 13, to the sound of ringing tills and, later this year, a Mandarin-speaking Siri.
China is on a list of 22 countries that will soon get the newest iPhone, and with a potential audience of almost a billion cellphone users, Apple’s coffers are set to swell even more. An Apple spokesperson confirmed the company intends to add official language support for Mandarin in 2012.
Analysts estimate the iPhone family now rakes in almost half of Apple’s annual revenue, with some claiming it earns Apple more than 60% of its profits.
Apple is currently partnered with China Unicom, one of the country’s bigger carriers with close to 200 million subscribers. It’s not the largest, however – China Mobile has a staggering 630 million subscribers, but Apple has already stated it won’t be joining forces with the carrier. Rumors in recent months have claimed Apple has been desperately trying to strike a deal with China Mobile. It’s also widely known that millions of China Mobile users have had their iPhones modified to work on the network.
News on when the Mandarin-speaking Siri arrives is less clear, though apparently the software will be able to speak and understand the lingo. However, Siri will be available only in English until at least February.
Another question: will Apple add Siri’s sarcastic streak and amusing movie references to the Mandarin incarnation?