After years of negotiations, Apple may have finally inked an iPhone distribution deal with the world’s largest wireless carrier, China Mobile. Apple allegedly told Foxconn to add China Mobile to its list of carriers that are eligible to receive the iPhone 5C. Details on when the phones will land with the Chinese carrier were not revealed, but we will likely find out more during Apple’s September 11th event in Beijing.
Apple has been saying for a while that China presents a significant growth opportunity for the company. The Asian country surpassed the US as the world’s largest smartphone market last year, and smartphone shipments in China are on track to hit 352 million units, which is almost double that of the US. Apple has yet to tap fully into the market, in part because its iPhone has not landed on China Mobile, the world’s largest wireless telecom.
Apple reportedly has been in negotiations with China Mobile for years, but has failed to hammer out a deal. If this WSJ report is true, then this stalemate is over, and the two sides may have finally come to an agreement. Not surprisingly, neither side has said anything about a potential deal and likely won’t until next week.
Out of all the rumors we’ve heard about the iPhone 5C, this one makes the most sense. It’s also the one that could have the largest impact on Apple’s bottom line. China Mobile has 700 million subscribers, which is more than Verizon Wireless, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile US combined. If it can get an affordably priced iPhone into the hands of even a fraction of these China Mobile customers, Apple stands to significantly boost sales and may even boost profits as long as it can still keep a decent profit margin on the budget phone.[Via Wall Street Journal]