After years of rumors, Apple may have finally signed a deal with China Mobile that will see the iPhone sold on the world's largest carrier. The Wall Street Journal first reported the news, saying that the phones should be available later this month; this could be timed around a December 18th event where China Mobile will announce a brand for its new 4G service. The deal would give Apple potential access to over 700 million customers in the second-largest economy in the world.
China Mobile has been seen as an important target for Apple for years. Its chairman at the time, Wang Jianzhou, claimed that the iPhone would come to the carrier over two years ago; speculation mounted further when Apple's new iPhone 5S and 5C shipped with support for China Mobile's unusual TD-LTE network and gained Chinese regulatory approval.
The iPhone is already available on China Mobile's smaller competitors, China Telecom and China Unicom. The deal echoes the situation in Japan earlier this year, where leading carrier NTT Docomo finally started selling the iPhone after losing subscribers to smaller rivals SoftBank and KDDI. Apple now appears to have secured wide availability for two of the most important markets in Asia.