China Mobile Chairman Wang Jianzhou says that he has met with Apple CEO Steve Jobs several times already, but has yet to come to an agreement to carry the iPhone, reports All Things D. The chairman’s statements came during an earnings call on Thursday.
China Mobile’s network has 7.44 million iPhones running on it already, thanks to unlocked models running on pre-paid SIMs. Those users do not have access to 3G speeds because the iPhone is not fully compatible with the TD-SCDMA network, and are relegated to 2G EDGE speeds only. Jianzhou said that an official agreement to carry the iPhone is something both parties want, “All I can say is, it’s a common wish of China Mobile and Apple to come to an agreement as soon as possible.”
China Mobile has 616 million subscribers, more than any other wireless company in the world, and would be a huge new market for Apple’s iPhone. China Mobile has experienced significant growth in the last quarter, reporting a net profit of $9.6B for the half ending in June. But smartphones represent just a small fraction of total phones in the country and the iPhone is currently only available on China Unicom, a much smaller carrier that only sports 180 million subscribers.
With a potential market as big as 600 million people, it’s not surprising that Steve Jobs is involving himself personally in bringing the iPhone to China’s biggest carrier.