Apple signs iPhone deal with China Mobile

Long-anticipated accord gives handset maker access to world’s largest mobile subscriber base

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Apple signs iPhone deal with China Mobile Apple has been pursuing a deal with China Mobile for a number of years. (Getty Images)
By  Stephen McBride Published  December 23, 2013

Apple Inc has finally agreed terms with China Mobile Ltd for the distribution of iPhones, in a deal that gives the Cupertino-based company access to the world's largest mobile subscriber base.

China Mobile will register its first orders for iPhones on 25 December and the units will be available on 17 January, with prices and availability for the iPhone 5S and 5C yet to be disclosed.

Despite being the largest mobile provider in China, with 760 customers, China Mobile was only awarded its 4G licence on 4 December. The delay meant the carrier could only offer TD-SCDMA 3G wireless services, a technology that was incompatible with iPhones. In the meantime, the China Mobile's estimated 45m iPhone users were forced to use the operator's 2G network.

Apple's deal with China Mobile also suffered setbacks from a series of disagreements about revenue sharing, analysts said. Now that a partnership is in place, analysts remain split on the potential revenues Apple could reap from the deal, but some believe it represents billions of dollars and could lead to a considerable marketing battle with Samsung Electronics.

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