Following years of rumor and negotiation, Apple has finally succeeded in bringing the iPhone to the world's largest mobile provider, China Mobile. The carrier today announced that the iPhone 5S and 5C are coming to its new 4G network on January 17th, 2014. It's the first time Apple has access to China Mobile's vast customer base; the company has over 700 million users.
China Mobile's importance on the global stage can't be overstated. With more than twice the number of users as the US has people, it represents a massive opportunity for growth to Apple. Rumors of an Apple-China Mobile partnership have circulated for years, after the Chinese company's ex-chairman said that an iPhone supporting its unique network would be made. In recent months, that speculation has become a near certainty after Apple's new iPhone 5S and 5C shipped with full support for China Mobile's network and also gained the necessary regulatory approval to launch a phone in the region.
Today's announcement confirms a Wall Street Journal report earlier this month that said a contract was in place between the two companies. With the China Mobile deal finally behind it, it's safe to say 2013 has been a successful year for Apple in Asia, at least in terms of negotiations. Echoing today's deal, leading Japanese carrier NTT Docomo began selling the iPhone earlier this year after losing marketshare to rival companies.
Jeff Blagdon contributed to this article.