China Mobile subscribers are set to be some of the first customers to get their hands on the new Apple iPhone 5C following its unveiling next week.
Wall Street Journal sources gave the strongest indication yet that the iPhone 5C is to be the first of Apple’s phones to ever be available to subscribers on China’s largest network.
One source familiar with the negotiations told the publication that Apple has asked manufacturing partner Foxconn to put China Mobile onto the list of carriers that will take delivery of the new cheaper iPhone 5C.
Apple signing a deal with China Mobile, which is said to be four times the size of the largest US network provider Verizon, is thought to be critical to the success of the company in the country.
"For Apple's less expensive iPhone to really work, it's critical for Apple to make it happen with China Mobile," Nicole Peng, China research director at Canalys told WSJ.
There is still no confirmation from either side that a deal has been made and if it’s done it will join China Telecom, who accidently revealed they’d be offering the iPhone 5S and 5C when it’s released later this month.
The same Sina Weibo post also revealed that China will be getting the two new devices before the US or Europe – the first time this has happened and a clear indication of how important Apple regards the country.
During the last quarter Apple had just 4.8 per cent of the Chinese market and was forced into seventh place by Xiaomi, a company that has only been around since 2011. Samsung, meanwhile, has 17.6 per cent of the market in China and has a smartphone that competes at every price point.
Apple is releasing the two devices at twin launch events in Cupertino, California and Beijing, China on 10 September, where they will end months of feverish speculation over the two new devices.