Apple has agreed in principle to a partnership that will see China Mobile offer the iPhone, although it is not yet clear when the world’s largest carrier will carry Apple’s flagship smartphone, or which version of the device it will be.
China Mobile Chairman Wang Jianzhou revealed that dialogue with Apple has been positive and remains ongoing while speaking to reporters at the ITU event in Geneva, as reported by Reuters.
We have not yet got [an] agreement [though] Apple promised to provide, when they develop the iPhone for LTE, that it will include TD-LTE. We are discussing the details.
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Jianzhou also confirmed that the company had met with former Apple CEO Steve Jobs on a number of occasions to discuss a potential tie-up, however it is the operator’s efforts pioneering TD-LTE, a mobile standard unique to China, has thus far prevented collaboration.
As we recently reported, China Mobile boasts a huge number of iPhone users despite not having a partnership with Apple. Jianzhou confirmed that there are now 10 million using the device on its network, which has more than 620 million customers as of September 2011.
China Mobile had watched China Unicom enjoy an exclusively partnership with Apple as the sole iPhone carrier in China. Rumours were rife of a China Mobile-Apple deal in the run up to the unveiling of the iPhone 4S, however given Jianzhou’s comments, it appears the duo were working towards a possible iPhone 5 deal all along.
With 10 million China Mobile customers already using the iPhone, the operator has the potential to become a very significant ally for Apple as it continues to grow in China, which was Apple’s second biggest market in the last quarter.