After years of negotiations, Apple is ready to bring the iPhone to the largest carrier on earth, China Mobile. Rumors have said that the two have reached an agreement for this fall, and now The Wall Street Journal is reiterating those claims, adding that Foxconn has been enlisted to start making iPhone 5Cs for the carrier.
The Journal couldn’t confirm the deal between the two companies, “but the fact that Apple is planning to ship phones implies a deal has been struck,” according to the report. Tim Cook was recently seen meeting with China Mobile executives.
In negotiations regarding the iPhone, China Mobile has been reportedly using its leverage as the biggest carrier in Apple’s third largest (and fastest growing) market, China. While Apple has a history of steamrolling U.S. carriers to get the deals it wants, China Mobile has been refusing to budge on price. The lower-cost iPhone 5C is likely the product that has finally brought Apple and China Mobile together, and Apple will be telecasting its September 10th event in Beijing.
Reports suggest that the iPhone will go on sale in China around the same time as the U.S. launch later this month, which is different than past years. Launches in China have typically been delayed by at least a couple months, but the upcoming iPhones are expected to go on sale within days of U.S. availability this year.
A partnership with China Mobile is absolutely huge for Apple. The iPhone is already available on China Unicom and China Telecom, the nation’s two other major carriers. But China Mobile is a beast all its own. It’s the world’s largest carrier by a stretch with 700 million subscribers.
To put this news into perspective, China Mobile is seven times the size of the largest U.S. carrier, Verizon. That’s a lot of potential iPhone customers.
Update: Bloomberg has weighed in saying, “A deal with China Mobile won’t be announced at an Apple event on Sept. 10, during which the company is set to unveil new iPhones.”
Source: The Wall Street Journal.