It has been widely rumored that China Mobile, the world’s largest carrier will start offering Apple’s iPhone later this month.
We now have some more evidence as a subsidiary of China Mobile in Suzhou briefly launched a reservation system for the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c.
According to Fortune, the reservation system went live briefly on Monday night, but the site has since been updated to say that the appointments will be reopened again later.
If the carrier is orchestrating a soft launch to work out the kinks, Suzhou is not a bad place to stage it. It’s one of the richest cities in China, with a sizable population of smartphone users who would not only know about the iPhone, but could probably afford it.
It is not clear if the reservations were halted because the news hit the web, or because the initial slots for the launch were fully booked. Some reports suggest that over 1000 people had created an appointment before the reservation system was taken offline.
Last month, China Mobile announced that it will be introducing a new brand for mobile services on December 18th, which sparked off speculations that the world’s largest carrier will finally start offering Apple’s iPhone.
When Apple announced that China will be one of the first countries to get the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c back in September, it was widely speculated that the new iPhones would be available on China Mobile’s network as they supported the TD-LTE standard used by the Chinese carrier. This was followed by the approval of the new iPhones for China Mobile’s network by China’s Telecom Equipment Certification Center.
However, China Mobile executives have said that the carrier will start offering Apple’s iPhone only after the launch of its 4G network. China Mobile received 130MHz of spectrum from the Chinese regulator late last month.
So it seems almost certain that China Mobile will start offering Apple’s iPhone later this month. This is a huge deal for Apple as according to analysts, 10% or 70 million China Mobile’s 700 million subscribers could be potential customers for the iPhone.