Apple may have just found itself a major new customer. After years of negotiations, the iPhone may finally be making its way to China Mobile, the largest telecom in China and home to over 700 million subscribers, reports both The Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg. That's a massive audience, apparently reaching seven times the size of Verizon in the US. Bloomberg says that a deal is close to being made, and that Apple is already preparing to ship iPhones over to the carrier. The Journal has heard the same shipment details, however it suggests that China Mobile may be getting the low-cost iPhone that Apple is rumored to introduce next week.
The deal could finally happen
China Mobile's unique and broadly incompatible cell network has been among the hiccups in Apple's journey over to the carrier. The carrier is also said to have been hesitant to accept Apple's traditional deals for supplying the iPhone. But Tim Cook was reported to have visited with China Mobile earlier this year, and it's possible that both of these issues have finally been resolved.
That resolution may be necessary too, as though China Mobile is its country's largest telecom, the Journal reports that it's been losing subscribers to competitors China Unicom and China Telecom because they both offer the iPhone. Apple too could use a leg up: its sales in Greater China this year reportedly fell by 14 percent from the year earlier, for the quarter ending June 29th. Its market share is in China is also down to 5 percent — a ways off from Samsung's 18 percent, reports the Journal.
Though Bloomberg says that the deal won't be announced at Apple's iPhone event in Cupertino on Tuesday, if a deal has been made, it's possible that Apple will wait to discuss it on Wednesday, at its first ever event in China. With details of a potential deal swirling, it could be the right moment for Apple to introduce itself to a big new audience.