Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) share of China’s burgeoning smartphone market may soon get significantly larger. According to an unnamed insider source cited by the Wall Street Journal, Apple has finally signed its long-rumored distribution deal with China Mobile (NYSE:CHL). As noted on its official website, China Mobile is the world’s largest carrier with over 750 million subscribers.
A deal with China Mobile is likely to significantly boost Apple’s market share in China where there are over 1 billion mobile phone users. According to market research firm Trefis via the Wall Street Journal, China Mobile may add as many as 20 million iPhone sales in 2014.
China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology issued a 4G operating license to China Mobile this week and the carrier is expected to unveil its new 4G services at its conference in Guangzhou on December 18. According to the Wall Street Journal’s sources, China Mobile will also announce its new partnership with Apple at this conference.
As previously reported by the Wall Street Journal, the TD-LTE versions of Apple’s iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C have already been licensed by China’s Telecom Equipment Certification Center. TD-LTE is the 4G standard used by China Mobile. According to China’s official Xinhua news service, China Mobile will market its new 4G services under the “He” brand name that means “harmonious” in the Chinese language.
Despite being the world’s largest carrier by subscriber base, China Mobile has never had a distribution deal with the California-based iPhone maker until now. Apple previously only had distribution deals with China’s two other major carriers: China Unicom (NYSE:CHU) and China Telecom (NYSE:CHA).
The most recent data from market research firm Gartner showed that the iPhone maker’s share of the worldwide smartphone market fell to 12.1 percent in the third quarter from 14.3 percent in the year-ago quarter. Meanwhile, rival Samsung (SSNLF.PK) maintained its No. 1 ranking in the global smartphone market with the same 32.1 percent share that it held last year.
Here’s how Apple has traded over the past five sessions.
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