Apple may partner with China Telecom to boost its presence in the world's biggest smartphone market by the end of 2011.
Sources told Reuters' Lee Chyen Yee and Huang Yuntao (opens in new tab) that the Chinese mobile phone operator would offer Apple's handsets in November, including most probably the iPhone 5, to its 106 million subscribers, therefore becoming the second carrier in China, after China Unicom to do so.
China Unicom has been an Apple partner since 2009 and its deal with the American company is set to expire in 2012. Analysts have pointed out that although the carrier received prestige out of selling the handset, it did not boost its earnings significantly.
China Telecom's chairman, Wang Xiaochu, hinted back in May that the two companies had already started working on plans to launch the iPhone, and it is not technology that may wreck the launch.
As one of the sources put it, Apple is not an easy company to negotiate with, especially if it doesn't want to end up on the losing end of the deal, without a revenue-sharing scheme as was the case with China Unicom.
There have also been rumours that China Mobile, which is bigger than China Telecom, may start to sell iPhones as early as September although they'd have to be TD-SCDMA compatible which would add to the complexity of the smartphone as well as to its Bill of Materials.