Reuters reports that Apple’s CEO Tim Cook who is on a visit to China met with China Mobile’s Chairman Xi Guohua.
The visit has sparked speculations of the possibility of Apple and China Mobile – the country’s largest mobile operator striking a deal to offer iPhone on its network.
Apple’s iPhone is currently available only on China Telecom and China Unicom’s network. As of November 2012, China Mobile is the world’s largest mobile operator by subscribers with about 703 million subscribers. So a deal with China Mobile could be give a significant boost to Apple’s market share in the country, which has been sliding lately due to competition from Android-based smartphones.
“In the morning, Apple’s CEO Tim Cook visited China Mobile’s headquarters. China Mobile’s Chairman Xi Guohua and Tim Cook discussed matters of cooperation,” said Li Jun, a China Mobile spokesman, in an emailed statement.
No further details will be given due to a confidentiality agreement signed, the statement said.
Tim Cook told reporters that he’s confident that China will become Apple’s largest market in the near future. Apple will definitely need China Mobile’s help if it wants to achieve that goal.
“Currently, Apple has 11 stores in the Greater China region, as well as many resellers. We will continue to expand in China and the number of retail stores we’ll have will exceed 25,” Cook was quoted as saying by news portal Sina Technology News.
The report notes that Tim Cook met government officials on Tuesday and China Unicom executives on Wednesday. Tim Cook also took time out to meet with customers at Apple’s retail stores in Beijing along with Apple’s Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing Phil Schiller. Here are some photos of Tim Cook and Phil Schiller that were posted on Chinese microblogging site Sina Weibo yesterday (via M.I.C Gadget).