Tim Cook continues discussions aimed at bringing the iPhone to the world's largest carrier, China Mobile

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. Reuters managed to get a brief, emailed statement from China Mobile spokesman Li Jun:

In the morning, Apple's CEO Tim Cook visited China Mobile's headquarters. China Mobile's Chairman Xi Guohua and Tim Cook discussed matters of cooperation.

Cook has continuously pointed out the size importance of the Chinese market, and its importance to Apple now and into the future. From new, China-specific features in OS X Mountain Lion and iOS 6, to increasing Apple's retail presence both in mainland China and Hong Kong, to keeping up relations with China Unicom and continuing negotiations with China Mobile, it's clear just how seriously Apple is taking that market.

The iPhone does not currently support the network technology used by China Mobile, and the two reportedly also remain apart on financial terms of the deal. As was the case years ago when their was no iPhone on Verizon in the U.S., other smartphone vendors benefit from Apple's absence, gain footholds with the user base, and grow.

Apple seldom seems willing to exchanges profit share for market share, however, so assuming the technology hurdles het solved in the next generation iPhone, would Apple concede anything on the business side just to get on China Mobile, access their subscriber base, and stall the adoption of competing devices?

Source: Reuters

Rene Ritchie

Editor-in-Chief of iMore, co-host of Iterate, Debug, Review, The TV Show, Vector, ZEN & TECH, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Tim Cook continues discussions aimed at bringing the iPhone to the world's largest carrier, China Mobile

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Re: "The iPhone does not currently support the network technology used by China Mobile, and the two reportedly also remain apart on financial terms of the deal."

Maybe this is the basis of the "cheaper iPhone" rumors. If China Mobile requires another branch of the iPhone tree, it could be Apple's chance to build a lower-cost iPhone just for them. And there would be no worry about gray market exports to Western cheapskates because the "China Mobile iPhone" would be incompatible with anyone else's network.