Rumors and speculation regarding an Apple and China Mobile partnership have been around for a long time, and such would represent a huge move on Apple’s part. Back in September, sources spoke to the Wall Street Journal claiming that Apple would be sending iPhone 5c models to China Mobile, though they couldn’t confirm whether an actual deal had taken place. Now a new source has cropped up, this time telling the WSJ that a deal has, indeed, been signed.
The information comes from a person said to be “familiar with the situation,” with word having it China Mobile has finally signed the much-coveted deal allowing it to offer iPhones on its network. Other sources have also spoken to the Journal, saying that the iPhone roll out is expected to start around December 18, which is when China Mobile holds its conference in Guangzhou. That information comes from two unnamed sources.
This timing is spot on according to what has been said previously, namely a past statement by China Mobile’s top players that the carrier would only offer the iPhone after rolling out its 4G service. The conference taking place later this month is for just such a thing, with the company unveiling its new high-speed mobile network for subscribers. Though Apple hasn’t commented on the matter, the pieces — at least on the surface — appear to add up.
If the deal is true, this would represent a huge new market for Apple, something it has been hesitant about entering due to 3G network concerns, among other things, a problem that will no longer exist in the next couple weeks. China Mobile has the largest number of users among all carriers, and is one of the last major players to still be left out of the iPhone market. By penning a deal, Apple will be offering its handsets through a carrier that eclipses Verizon seven-fold.
Researchers expect that China Mobile could move up to 1.5 million iPhones per month, which could give Apple a substantial boost in iPhone activations next year. What isn’t clear at this point is which models China Mobile will be offering. The sources that spoke to the Journal back in September said that Apple had instructed Foxconn to add China Mobile to the list of carriers slated to receive the cheaper iPhone 5c, and the latest batch of sources didn’t offer details on this aspect of the deal either way.