updated 12:41 pm EDT, Wed July 31, 2013
Could hint at long-awaited iPhone deal
Apple CEO Tim Cook met with China Mobile chairman Xi Guohua in Beijing on Tuesday, the latter company tells Reuters. The subject of the executives' discussion is being kept secret, but the pair were likely in talks to bring a new iPhone and/or iPad to China Mobile. The company is the only major Chinese carrier without an Apple deal, although it has a number of unofficial iPhone users on its network.
China Mobile's main obstacle has been network compatibility. The firm uses a proprietary 3G standard, TD-SCDMA, which doesn't extend outside of China and is therefore unsupported by most phones and tablets. The carrier has however been building out a new LTE 4G network, and since the Chinese government is expected to issue 4G licenses later this year, China Mobile could finally be in a position to offer iPhones and iPads so long as new models accommodate its frequencies. New devices should be announced sometime this fall, most likely in September.
Cook is said to have met with one of China Mobile's rivals, China Telecom, earlier this week. It's unknown if the CEO is meeting with China Unicom, or any suppliers in the region, particularly in light of charges of worker rights abuses at Pegatron.