As Casey posted earlier today, the he said/he said, on again/off again, non-talk talks between Apple and China's largest GSM provider, China Mobile indicate something may happen eventually, somewhere.

With a mobile market rapidly approaching half a billion, it would be crazy if Apple and China Mobile weren't in talks, right? Right?!

"We have not yet officially begun talks with Apple over the iPhone problem"

That's what China Mobile exec Wang Jianzhou said, speaking to reporters this week. Vowing to keep his options open, however, as long as his customers stayed interested.

How the iPhone becomes classified as a "problem" is curious, unless Wang is referring to the way it's challenging traditional carrier-centric business models, including feature lock-downs and exorbitant data prices? Pity.

For Apple's part, CEO Steve Jobs earlier this year quipped that China Mobile negotiations were limited to a single meeting with a single rep, and at today's annual shareholder meeting, Reuters quotes COO Tim Cook with this profoundly helpful nugget:

"We will enter Asia with the iPhone in 2008... we will one day enter China, we're not saying when, and we will one day enter India."

While denials in the corporate world sometimes lead to seemingly miraculous reversals and immanent product announcements, AppleInsider reports that in this case, China Mobile (like the rest of the world), is waiting for the 3G version.

What does this all mean? China Mobile may just be leveraging the size of its market and existing "off-the-books" iPhone penetration against Apple's revenue sharing and data pricing models, to get the best deal they can on the next gen handset. And it may just come down to who blinks first. (Right, Ireland?)