Apple CEO Tim Cook today made a rare TV appearance with China Mobile Chairman Xi Guohua in Beijing to about the recent deal between the two companies that’ll bring the iPhone to the world’s largest carrier.
“This is a watershed day,” said Cook, who is in Beijing ahead of Friday’s launch. He referred to China Mobile as a great cellphone firm with a “very fast network.”
“It’s a huge announcement…we’re incredibly impressed with them, we have deep respect for them,” Cook said. “We see this as bringing the world’s best smartphone to the very largest and now the fastest network in China.”
China Mobile, with a subscriber base of over 760 million, not only increases prospective iPhone buyers, but also strengthens iPhone distribution in the country, by adding 3000 more cities where the device will be sold.
The iPhone goes on sale on China Mobile this Friday, but the carrier has already received an astounding 1.4 million preorders. The iPhone 5s starts at 5,288 yuan ($870), and the iPhone 5c starts at 4,488 yuan ($738) in the country, which is quite expensive, but China Mobile says it’ll soon roll out subsidies to increase its affordability.
A China Mobile-Apple deal had been in the works since quite a few years, but got delayed due to technical or commercial reasons. Tim Cook had to visit China multiple times in the past year to finalise the terms of their partnership. China Mobile says the partnership isn’t limited to handsets, and will “involve broader co-operation between the two firms.”
Cook reiterated that Apple isn’t too worried about rivals having a much higher marketshare, saying:
I’ve always thought it was important for an individual and a company to have a North Star, something that doesn’t change. Many many things can change but the North Star should be clear, and for Apple that’s always been making the best products in the world. That’s our strategy and that’s not changing today or tomorrow or the next day or the next year.
When you really back up and look at what’s happening in China the usage numbers are staggering. Fifty-seven percent of the mobile browsing in China is done on iOS devices. Now there are many different views of unit market share and you can choose to look at whichever one you think is most reputable, but for us that is not our North Star, we don’t get up in the morning saying we want to sell the most, we get up saying we want to make and create the best, and so that’s our strategy and it doesn’t change.