Apple CEO Tim Cook has met with China Mobile's chairman, Xi Guohua, to discuss "matters of cooperation," a China Mobile spokesman told Reuters, helping to confirm expectations that the two tech giants will work together.
Cook has been traipsing around Asia this week on his second trip to China in 10 months, meeting on Tuesday with China's Industry and Information Technology Minister Miao Wei to discuss the development of China's IT industry and Apple's business in the country. Rumours of the CEO's efforts to ink a deal with China Mobile immediately sprang up, with some saying the partnership could land another 100 million or more potential subscribers for the iPhone architect.
Apple already has deals with China Unicom and China Telecom, the country's second and third largest mobile carriers, but has yet to shake hands with China Mobile, the world's largest mobile carrier by subscribers. The aforementioned service providers have already profited from their partnership with Apple, selling more than two million iPhone 5 units in the first two days of its Chinese launch.
The iOS purveyor has made great strides in China recently, growing 25 per cent in the Asia-Pacific region in the third quarter. Even before launching the iPhone 5 in the area, China made up two-thirds of its regional revenue.
In a translated interview with China's Sina Technology News, Cook remained positive about his company's future in China, saying that the country has always been an important market, and even boasting that "in the near future, China will become Apple's largest market."
Meanwhile, and without much fanfare, Cook has reportedly confirmed that a cellular data version of the iPad mini will be shipped to China later this month.
According to The Next Web, Apple last month received domestic network licenses for its cellular-based tablets — a requirement before the devices can go on sale in the mainland. The Wi-Fi only version landed in China in early December, a week before the iPhone 5 hit overseas shelves.