Apple And China Mobile Are Talking iPhone, Might Not Reach An Agreement This Year

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The iPhone might be coming to the world’s largest mobile carrier, China Mobile. The world comes from Bloomberg quoting China Mobile’s chairman. The report also details that the phone might not hit the carrier’s 655 million subscribers yet this year. But the two sides are talking. That’s a start. Apple needs China Mobile and China Mobile needs Apple.

“China Mobile and Apple both have the will to strengthen cooperation,” Xi said. “When there is more specific news, we will disclose it.”

As Bloomberg notes, one of the sticking points has to do with China Mobile’s proprietary network that’s not friendly with the iPhone’s mobile radios. China Mobile is currently rolling out 4G service but only in six cities so far; three more cities are slated to get it this year. The rollout kicks into high gear next year with plans to expand the 4G base stations from 900 units to 200,000.

Although China Mobile is the country’s, and the world’s, largest mobile carrier, its 3G network is starting to show its age relative to newer, faster 4G networks. A 4G iPhone is exactly what China Mobile needs to keep up with the times.

The iPhone is already a hit in China even without China Mobile. Apple revenue in China is up threefold year-over-year for Apple. In fact, Apple has reported more revenue in China so far this year than it did all of last. Getting the iPhone on China Mobile is likely a top priority of Cook and Co.

Cook said in the October 2011 earnings call: “For China — the sky’s the limit there. I’ve never seen so many people rise into the middle class who aspire to buy Apple products.”