The world's largest mobile phone operator by users, China Mobile, says that it has more than 10 million iPhone users on its network even though it doesn't have a formal agreement with Apple to sell the handset.
The company's chairman, Wang Jianzhou, told Reuters that the company was still discussing with Apple the prospect of providing a handset that supports China Mobile's TD-LTE standard and it is likely that this will come with the iPhone 5.
Only China Unicom officially stocks the iPhone, but the fact that 10 million Chinese users have chosen to pay for what is an expensive phone without any subsidies and use it on China Mobile's network can only offer hope for the network.
With 630 million users, even a single digit conversion to Apple's smartphone would rake in significant revenue, as Apple handsets are usually pitched with a higher monthly contract.
It's worth noting that no iPhones are compatible - out of the box - with China Mobile's proprietary TD-LTE technology, which means that they are almost certainly being used to make calls and send texts, not to surf the web (Wi-Fi is disabled on most devices sold to the end-users in China).