updated 10:25 pm EST, Wed December 5, 2012
Remarks from president claims business issues, not technical, to blame
Yue Li, the president of China Mobile, confirmed at its Worldwide Developer's Conference that business issues are holding up agreements with Apple -- preventing the iPhone from reaching China's largest cellphone provider's network. Li confirmed that the company had been negotiating with Apple since 2009, and was close to reaching a contract in 2011.
Early rumors pegged the iPhone 5 as potentially compatible with the network's custom protocol, but the released device as it stands does not function properly on the TD-SCDMA network. China Mobile is reportedly building out a network usable with Apple's new phone, but it is likely incomplete or unable to withstand the expected tide of iPhone 5 users.
"We look forward to working hand in hand with Apple," Li said. Analysts expect a deal with China Mobile to more than double Apple's installed base in the country.
Rival China Unicom announced that it has received 100,000 iPhone 5 orders on its first day of preorder sales. Wireless operator China Telecom has been taking preorders for weeks, but began formal sales of the handset on Sunday and sold 5,000 sales of the hotly-anticipated device on its first day. The phone's ultimate release in China was announced last week, with products shipping on December 14. The new Apple phone has been available in 47 other countries, including Hong Kong and Japan, since September.