China Mobile Reportedly Inks iPhone Deal with Apple

China Mobile, the world's largest wireless carrier, has come to an agreement with Apple that will see it selling the iPhone by the end of October, according to a new report.

The report, which comes via the Chinese-language website, cited a company filing. China Mobile has 611 million wireless subscribers, or 68 percent of the total wireless market in China, making it also the largest wireless carrier, by far, in the world. In comparison, Verizon Wireless, the United States' largest wireless carrier, had 106.3 million subscribers as of the end of Q2 2011. AT&T had 98.6 million subscribers.

To this point, only China Unicom has sold the iPhone in China. The new rumor states that China Mobile would be selling an iPhone 4 at the end of October, so it's possible that it's the same "simplified iPhone 4" that China Telecom is supposed to be selling. That would also mean that, naturally, China Mobile would be selling the iPhone 5 then, as well.

On Friday, analyst Mike Abramsky with RBC Capital Markets reacted to the rumor by noting that an iPhone launch on China Mobile could mean an additional 2 to 3 million units for Apple by the end of 2011.

If all these rumors pan out, including the one about the "simplified iPhone 4," it would mean that for the first time Apple sold more than one new model of its iPhone during a "model year." Rumors of a multi-tiered approach to iPhone sales, to combat the influx of Android devices, have been rampant for months.

Still, customers are still awaiting an announcement on the next-generation iPhone. Apple had been releasing new models in the summer for some years, but this year has delayed the release, which is rumored to be September or October. At least part of the delay may be related to iOS 5, which is set to launch in "the fall," Apple said.
Tags:  Apple, iPhone, China