China Mobile SWOT

SWOT Analysis China Mobile

Corporate Overview

China Mobile Limited was started in 1997. Originally it was called China Telecom (Hong Kong) and then China Mobile (Hong Kong) and finally China Mobile Limited as we know it today. Its public offering in 1997 generated capital of USD $2.5 million, and a further massive investment of global capital (around USD $600 million) was made in 2004. Would you like a lesson on SWOT analysis?


  • According to the head of China Mobile, China’s home-grown mobile technology is a few years behind that of its international competitors since it was having problems with handsets. Essentially 3G technology was lagging behind. Part of the problem was the choice to swap to TD-SCDMA’s network which many would consider inferior to the 3G technology offered by European and American alternatives (which their competitors have decided to adopt).
  • The company is not globally diversified. Telecoms companies tend to trade in more than one country, usually through acquisition, joint-ventures or strategic alliances (for example see the SWOT analysis of Bharti Airtel). This may leave the company exposed if the Chinese market were to go into a deep or sustained decline.


  • The Chinese economy has undergone enormous growth, which has lead to the huge demand for mobile telephones, devices and technologies. According to the Chinese Government, China is the world’s largest mobile market with 520 million mobile phone users. This number could reach 600 million by 2010.
  • Budget users in China are driving growth in the mobile telecoms sector. China Mobile reported a net profit between January and March 2008 of around 24.1bn yuan (£3.4bn; £2.2bn) which is a rise of 37% on 2007 according to BBC News.
  • Since the cities have become saturated, much of the new growth is predicted for rural China and it is this segment that is most likely to be targeted by the large operators. 3G technologies provide the largest opportunity for China Telecom.


  • New subscribers are mainly low-use, low-value. So average revenue is falling as the mobile phone market matures and the market becomes more price competitive. So mobile phone suppliers are awaiting the introduction of 3G mobile technologies to rejuvenate the market and stimulate demand as Chinese customers consume the new added value services.
  • China Mobile could face more competition in the future as the Chinese Government plans to allow more operators into the market. China Mobile has 70% of the 2G market in China. China Unicom wants to become the biggest 3G operator, and China Telecom aims to win 15% of the 3G market by 2010.
  • China Mobile has a number of service obligations under agreements with the Chinese (PRC) Government. So the business may be obliged to provide unprofitable services that pay a social dividend. Added to this the Ministry of Information and Industry has allocated a limited frequency (44MHz) to the company which will not support large numbers of subscribers in the future.

This case study has been compiled from information freely available from public sources. It is merely intended to be used for educational purposes only.

Today it trades in 31 provinces of China and essentially offers a Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) which covers almost the entire nation. The business makes money from its voice-based services and other value-added services such as SMS text, mobile e-mail and similar services. This SWOT analysis is about China Mobile.


  • China Mobile was listed fifth in Millward Brown’s Brandz Top 100 Brands in 2007. This would have be unheard of 10 years ago (or even less). The news means that the company is becoming more than a business since it is now also a brand i.e. possessing brand equity and brand value. Other Chinese brands to break the top 100 were the Bank of China, the Chinese Construction Bank and IBBC. It is argued by many that Chinese companies are not strong in relation to marketing but perhaps things are changing.
  • The company has made good profits over recent years.
  • China Mobile has gone down the acquisition trail on a number of occasions. In its early days it took over Jiangsu Mobile (1997). Other important acquisitions include Fujian Mobile, Henan Mobile, and Hainan Mobile (1999); – and Beijing Mobile, Shanghai Mobile, Tianjin Mobile and Hebei Mobile (2000). These developments have delivered strong growth.
  • China Mobile is number one in the Chinese market. It recorded a 67.5% market share in 2006. It is the world’s largest digital mobile company, and serves more customers than any other mobile supplier.