Following Apple CEO Tim Cook's recent jaunt to China, the chairman of China Mobile, the world's largest carrier, has remarked they are indeed keen to carry the iPhone. But, there still remains a number of issues in the way, both commercial and technical. From Reuters:
"We are actively negotiating and both sides are keen," Xi (China Mobile Chairman) told reporters on Thursday after announcing half-year results. "There are still some commercial and technology issues that need time to resolve," he added, without elaborating.
The long standing absence of the iPhone on China Mobile is notable, but their ageing 3G technology is part of the root of the problem. Since new chips from Qualcomm can operate on China's obscure networks, even their forthcoming LTE, the time may finally be right for Apple and China Mobile to join forces.
Consider the weight such an announcement may have at the September 10 iPhone event, where we're possibly going to see a new lower-cost iPhone 5c. A market like China could be huge for such a device, as would taking to the stage and announcing a partnership with the largest carrier on the planet.