Apple Lands Deal To Bring iPhone To China Mobile's 763 Million Customers


After years of rumors, Apple has finally landed a "multi-year agreement " with China Mobile that will bring the iPhone to the world's largest carrier's 763 million subscribers.

Under terms of the deal, unveiled Sunday, the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c will be available in both Apple's and China Mobile's retail stores in mainland China starting Jan. 17.

Both iPhones will be available for pre-order from China Mobile's website starting on Dec. 25.

It's unclear at this stage what Apple will charge for the iPhone 5s and 5c, which hit U.S. store shelves in September. The Cupertino, Calif.-based vendor said China Mobile's pricing for the iPhone 5s and iPhone will be "available at a later date."

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Investors reacted positively to the China Mobile deal, as Apple shares were up more than 4 percent on Tuesday, trading as high as $571.88. Despite the jump, Apple shares are still off around 20 percent from last year's high.

Rumors of Apple holding talks with China Mobile have been percolating since the first iPhone hit the market in 2007. Apple inked a three-year iPhone deal with China Unicom, the country's second-largest carrier, in 2009.

Despite the lack of an official agreement, China Mobile knew of 400,000 activated Phones on its network at the end of 2007 as a result of the thriving gray market for iPhones in China, the research firm In-Stat reported in 2008.

Apple has attracted tons of iOS developers in China -- CEO Tim Cook in July said there were more than 500,000 -- and the China Mobile deal will no doubt cause this figure to expand. "China is a huge opportunity for Apple," Cook said in Apple's third quarter earnings.

China Mobile currently offers 4G services in 16 cities, including Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen. By the end of 2014, China Mobile plans to have activated 500,000 4G base stations that will expand its 4G coverage to more than 340 cities, Apple said in a statement.