updated 04:44 pm EDT, Fri September 6, 2013
Marks an end to long-running negotiations
Apple is getting ready to deliver iPhones to China Mobile, sources tell the Wall Street Journal. The paper notes that while it isn't clear if the two businesses have signed a formal sales agreement, the impending delivery of phones would mean that some sort of deal has been arranged. One source elaborates that Apple has asked its main manufacturing partner, Foxconn, to add China Mobile to the list of carriers that will be getting the low-cost iPhone, better known as the iPhone 5C. When Mobile might be getting the 5C is uncertain.
China Mobile has been negotiating for the iPhone for years, and has regularly made statements about the talks. The main obstacle has been the carrier's choice of 3G network; rather than opting for a standard version of HSPA or CDMA, it went with a proprietary format, TD-SCDMA. That forced phone makers to support China Mobile specifically if at all, and instead some firms like Apple chose to ignore Mobile and go with its rivals, China Unicom and China Telecom. Because Mobile is using a relatively standard implementation of LTE (4G) though, it may be more practical to build a Mobile-compatible iPhone.
China Mobile is the world's biggest wireless carrier, with over 700 million subscribers. Apple needs it onboard to have any hope of seizing a large share of the Chinese market.