Apple CEO Steve Jobs is personally negotiating with China Mobile, the world’s largest cell phone carrier, to bring the iPhone to an increasingly tech-hungry Chinese market.
Reports indicate China Mobile may have already signed a deal to launch the iPhone 4 by the end of October.
However, Apple may be about to score an even bigger coup — one analyst said the Cupertino, Calif. company has an “imminent” deal with another Chinese company, China Telecom, to participate in the iPhone 5 debut, expected this fall.
Jobs reportedly spoke with China Mobile about bringing iPhones that will give customers 3G speeds on China Mobile’s network. Nearly eight million China Mobile customers use iPhones, even though they’re not capable of working as 3G devices.
The partnership may mean big bucks for Apple, and may bring Apple 600 million potential new customers. Apple chief operating officer Tim Cook stated in July that China is “very key” to Apple’s revenue, and the Chinese market is a linchpin in Apple’s global expansion plans. China’s customers bringing Apple $3.8 billion in the last quarter and $8.8 billion in the last year. If Apple succeeds in a deal with China Mobile, those revenues may climb even higher.
China Mobile will benefit from the deal too. Currently, rival China Unicom is the only Chinese mobile company that officially offers the iPhone, but that hasn’t stopped China Mobile customers from using it, too. And even though many Chinese phone users select Android models because of their relatively lower prices, people still demand Apple devices.
If Apple can finalise its agreements with Chinese mobile carriers to bring in the iPhone, and the Chinese companies agree keep the iPhone’s price at an affordable level, customers may be happy to pay for legal models. And, also the deal may add to Apple’s already powerful hold on the tech industry and ensure its place not only a powerhouse in the U.S., but also in China, the world’s largest mobile phone market.