Skip to main content

Apple and China Mobile sign iPhone deal

Apple and China Mobile have finally reached an agreement that will see the iPhone offered on the country’s largest mobile phone network.

The device rollout, which is expected to get underway around 18 December, opens up Apple to the world’s largest mobile carrier in terms of users with some 700 million subscribers already signed up to the network.

Two people familiar with China Mobile’s plans told the Wall Street Journal that the firm will unveil its 4G plans at the company’s China Mobile conference in Guangzhou on 18 December with the iPhone an integral part of this.

4G licenses being issued in China was thought to be key to Apple signing a deal with China Mobile as the Cupertino-based firm has strong reservations over the China Mobile’s unreliable 3G network.

Greater China, which includes Hong Kong and Taiwan, is already Apple’s third largest market behind the US and Europe in terms of revenue and the China Mobile deal will help it to build on this even further.

Research company Trefis thinks that China Mobile could sell around 1.5 million iPhones every month and tot up an extra 20 million iPhone activations in 2014 that will help Apple to keep pace with Samsung.

Mizuho Securities analyst Marvin Lo told the WSJ that China Mobile has the country’s wealthiest subscriber base and that around 10 per cent of the operator’s current base would buy the Apple iPhone – around 70 million users.

The South Korean manufacturer is still the worldwide leader in shipments with 32.1 per cent of the market during the third quarter according to research firm Gartner. This compares favourably to Apple’s market share that fell from 14.3 per cent to 12.1 per cent.

Looking at China in particular Samsung had a 21 per cent market share in the third quarter with Apple enjoying just six per cent according to data from Canalys.