It appears the iPhone may finally be coming to China Mobile, the world’s largest mobile phone operator. It is launching a “new brand for mobile services” on December 18. According to the Wall Street Journal, a China Mobile executive said it will soon offer 4G LTE services, which could pave the way for finally launching Apple’s popular iPhone on its network.
While this is not a direct confirmation that China Mobile will start carrying the iPhone, it is another piece of evidence that suggests a launch is near. This summer, Apple CEO Tim Cook visited China to negotiate with China Mobile, and China Mobile executives have said they want to carry the iPhone. In September, Apple received the final license needed for the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c to run on China Mobile’s network. And when Apple announced the iPhone 5s and 5c, it held a corresponding event in Beijing.
If China Mobile started carrying the iPhone, this would be a huge boost to Apple heading into 2014. With 740 million subscribers, China Mobile is by far the largest carrier in China. And even though China Mobile does not carry the iPhone, there is clearly demand, as there are reportedly already 42 million iPhone users on China Mobile’s network.