A deal for China Mobile to sell the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c has looked pretty much a certainty for a while now, and it seems that reservations are already being taken. Philip Elmer-Dewitt first reported on it for Fortune:
The iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c may have launched in China, but there's still one notable absence; a China Mobile iPhone. The worlds largest cellular carrier has long been rumored to begin carrying the iPhone, and as the Wall Street Journal reports, things may begin to progress on December 18:
China is a big deal, not just for Apple, but the most populated country on Earth also enjoys the largest mobile phone market as well. With the new iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c, Apple will for the first time have a device that is properly compatible with China Mobile, and a report out of China (translated) suggests why this is a very big deal for Apple:
We learned during yesterday's iPhone event at Apple HQ that for the first time the new iPhone would be landing in China on launch day. Apple has thrown a separate event in Beijing this morning to officially launch the iPhone 5s and 5c there, and according to the Wall Street Journal, regulators have signed off on a license to run the iPhone on China Mobile:
All eyes are on Apple ahead of a special event scheduled for Tuesday morning at Apple's headquarters in Cupertino, Calif. where the company is expected to unveil at least one, if not two, new iPhone models. And Apple is preparing to ship the still unannounced iPhone 5c to China's biggest mobile company, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Apple's smartphone marketshare in the burgeoning Chinese market is dropping precipitously, and to bolster its position the company needs to strike a deal with China's largest carrier, China Mobile. The only problem is that Apple needs China Mobile a lot more than China Mobile needs Apple, according to Bloomberg.
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.
As speculated just yesterday, Apple CEO Tim Cook has reportedly held meetings with the head of the worlds largest carrier, China Mobile. China is a huge market for Apple despite declining sales, but as yet China Mobile customers do not have any direct route to the iPhone via the carrier. According to Reuters, this was definitely a matter on the table:
The iPhone is one of the most popular phones on the world, yet almost 6 years later it's still not on China Mobile, the largest carrier in the world, and unavailable in any official way to China Mobile's over 700 million subscribers. Discussions have been going on for years, of course, and earlier today Apple's CEO Tim Cook met with China Mobile's Chairman Xi Guohua in Bejing to keep them moving.
The relationship between China Mobile and Apple has been a strange one to watch unfold over the years. China Mobile president Li Yue recently spoke about his company's ongoing talks with Apple, which he said have been going on since 2009, and have become "more intimate" in the last year (the same talks were confirmed back in May of this year). While the technology stumbling block would be acknowledged by anybody involved, Li says that it's not just technology that's holding things up - there's the whole issue of money too.