This article was published 12 years ago

There was a surprise at WWDC that many may not have noticed

China flag National Flag of the People's Republic of China 5 star red flag
The National Flag of the People’s Republic of China blowing in the wind – Image credit: Flickr / Craig Nagy

What caught my attention during the 2012 Apple WorldWide Developers Conference was not the next generation MacBook Pro, iOS 6, Siri or Mountain Lion but the importance of international language in iOS 6 and Siri, particularly towards China.

China was mentioned twice during the WWDC keynote: Siri language adoption and Chinese-based social network integration, including Baidu search, micro-blogging service Sina Weibo, video sharing site Todu and YouKu as well as improved text input and dictionary.

The integration of Chinese social networks in iOS 6 was only added so Apple can get on China’s largest mobile service, China Mobile, which has 655 million subscribers as of January 2012. Apple is already on the second largest mobile service, China Unicom – which has 212 million subscribers as of 2012 – and the third largest carrier in China, China Telcom – with 62 million wireless subscribers as of 2008.

Just for comparison, the population of the United States is 311 million; Verizon Wireless – the largest wireless carrier – has 108 million subscribers and AT&T has 103  million subscribers.

It’s unclear how many wireless subscribers in China are using the iPhone but judging that riots break out anytime a new iPhone is available for purchase in China, it’s a market Apple wants on dominate.