Will This Deal Help Apple Conquer China?

Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) expansion plans in its fastest growing market look set to be getting a big surge. The chairman of China Mobile (NYSE:CHL), the world’s largest phone company by users, has said he is in talks with Apple to start offering the iPhone to its subscribers.

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“China Mobile and Apple both have the will to strengthen cooperation,” Xi Guohua told shareholders at a Hong Kong meeting on Wednesday. “When there is more specific news, we will disclose it.”

Xi, who was chairing his first annual general meeting after he took over in March, added that he couldn’t provide a timeline for a possible deal.

China Mobile had 667.2 million subscribers at the end of March, but its below-par 3G service has prevented it from offering the iPhone until now, and was also causing it to lose users who want more powerful data. However, the carrier is expecting to shift to a fourth-generation wireless network soon. The company is ready to take its fourth-generation network trial to nine cities this year and has added 20,000 base stations to the 900 it tested last year, Bloomberg said. Depending on the success of the trial, the number of 4G base stations could climb to 200,000 next year, chief executive officer Li Yue told shareholders.

Apple already has iPhone deals with the carrier’s big domestic competitors China Unicom (NYSE:CHU) and China Telecom (NYSE:CHA).

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