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Apple Finally Signs Deal With China Mobile for December iPhone Launch
China Mobile, which has more than 700 million subscribers, is expected to begin selling the iPhone around December 18 following a China Mobile conference in Guangzhou where the company is also expected to debut its 4G network. Earlier today, the Chinese government finally granted TD-LTE licenses to China Mobile, China Unicom, and China Telecom, the country's three major carriers.
China Mobile is one of the last major carriers in the world that does not currently offer the iPhone, and the deal could bring a huge boost in sales to Apple. Currently, only China's smaller carriers, China Telecom and China Unicom, offer the iPhone on their 3G networks.
A deal with China Mobile would give Apple access to a subscriber base that is seven times the size of Verizon Wireless, the U.S.'s largest carrier. Greater China, including Hong Kong and Taiwan, is Apple's third biggest market after the U.S. and Europe in terms of revenue.Apple and China Mobile have been in talks for several years, and CEO Tim Cook traveled to China to meet with China Mobile Chairman Xi Guohua back in July where the two made headway on a potential deal.
News of a finalized deal has been expected since September, as the iPhone 5s and the iPhone 5c were the first iPhones supporting China Mobile's TD-LTE standard. Apple also received the final license it needed to operate on China Mobile’s wireless standard back in September following the launch of the newest iPhones.
Update: A China Mobile spokesperson tells Reuters that the two companies are "still negotiating".
"We are still negotiating with Apple, but for now we have nothing new to announce," China Mobile spokeswoman Rainie Lei said, declining to elaborate. Apple also declined comment.