Feeds

Apple said to ink deal with China Mobile, adding 760 million potential iPhone customers

'We are still negotiating,' says China Mobile. 'It's a done deal,' say leaky insiders

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Apple has reportedly signed a deal with the world's largest mobile phone service provider, China Mobile, although a conflicting report says that the telco giant is "still negotiating" with Cupertino.

The original report comes from The Wall Street Journal, citing that ever-loquacious "person familiar with the situation."

A China Mobile spokeswoman, however, told Reuters that "We are still negotiating with Apple, but for now we have nothing new to announce."

Our experience with such leaks and denials leads us to believe that the deal is as well as done, but that a few details still need to be worked out before the grand co-announcement will be made. We could be wrong, of course, but we're willing to stick our necks out and say that an agreement to make Apple's handsets available to China Mobile's vast customer base is a done deal.

And a massive customer base it is. China Mobile reports on its website that as of October 31 of this year it had 759.3 million customers, and as of this year's third quarter of it had operating revenues of 159.9bn yuan renminbi ($26.3bn). Compare those numbers with the largest US mobile provider, Verizon Wireless, which counts "101.2 million retail connections," and reported operating revenues of $30.3bn in Q3 2013.

Those revenue figures certainly indicate that Verizon Wireless has a much healthier average revenue per account (ARPA) than does its Chinese counterpart – nearly $156 per month as of last quarter, in fact. Undoubtedly, China Mobile believes it can fatten up its ARPA with Apple's help in capturing a heftier slice of the lucrative smartphone market.

The deal would also be a great opportunity for Cook & Co., as it has as yet failed to break off a significant chunk of the Chinese smartphone market, where Samsung is the dominant player and cheapo Android phones proliferate.

It could be argued that China Mobile's low ARPA might indicate that there is a relatively small percentage of their customers who might pop for a pricey bit of Cupertinian kit. That may well be the case, but when your entire subscriber base is so humongous, the possibility of luring even a portion of them into the iPhone fold is a great money-making opportunity.

And Apple's CEO wants those bucks. Speaking with analysts and reporters after announcing Apple's most recent financial results, Cook expressed hope that China could provide a boost in his company's slowing growth. "We had a pretty good quarter in China," he said. "We obviously want to do better."

iPhone sales were up 25 per cent year-on-year, he noted, but that was from a rather small base in the previous year. There's still quite a bit of room for growth in a market that is not as saturated with smartphones as is, say, the EU or the US, and one that has a rapidly growing middle class eager to pocket some show-off shiny-shiny.

When the iPhone 5s and 5c first went on sale this September 20, Apple demonstrated the importance of the Chinese market by making the launch the first time that China was included in the first wave of countries in which the handsets were made available.

If China Mobile is indeed onboard – and the folks speaking with the WSJ said the announcement is expected to be made during a China Mobile conference in Guangzhou on December 18 – that recognition may have helped Apple break into the biggest operator not only in the Middle Kingdom, but in the world. ®

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
Will.i.am gets CUFFED as he announces his new wristjob, the PULS
It's got four KILOWATTS of something, apparently
Don't wait for that big iPad, order a NEXUS 9 instead, industry little bird says
Google said to debut next big slab, Android L ahead of Apple event
Netscape Navigator - the browser that started it all - turns 20
It was 20 years ago today, Marc Andreeesen taught the band to play
A drone of one's own: Reg buyers' guide for UAV fanciers
Hardware: Check. Software: Huh? Licence: Licence...?
Jaguar Sportbrake: The chicken tikka masala of van-sized posh cars
Indian-owned Jag's latest offering curries favour with us
iPhone 6 shunned by fanbois in Apple's GREAT FAIL of CHINA
Just 100 Beijing fanbois queue to pick up new mobe
The Apple launch AS IT HAPPENED: Totally SERIOUS coverage, not for haters
Fandroids, Windows Phone fringe-oids – you wouldn't understand
Here's your chance to buy an ancient, working APPLE ONE
Warning: Likely to cost a lot even for a Mac
Is living with Dolby Atmos worth the faff?
Subtle, naturalistic ambiance – perfect for Transformers 4
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.