updated 03:58 pm EST, Fri December 6, 2013
Carrier maintains position despite rumors of imminent launch
The world's biggest cellphone carrier, China Mobile, says it is still discussing an iPhone deal with Apple, according to a Reuters report. "We are still negotiating with Apple, but for now we have nothing new to announce," comments Mobile spokeswoman Rainie Lei. Earlier this week, the Wall Street Journal claimed that a deal had been signed, supporting rumors that Mobile might start selling iPhones as soon as December 18th.
Beyond business terms there is now no fundamental obstacle to Mobile offering iPhones. The iPhone 5s and 5c support the carrier's TD-LTE 4G network, and the Chinese government has issued 4G licenses to all three national cellular providers.
Apple needs Mobile in order to make any serious headway into the Chinese smartphone market. The carrier has over 759 million subscribers, easily dwarfing China Telecom and China Unicom, the only official iPhone providers in the country aside from Apple itself.