China Mobile is the world’s largest carrier. Its subscriber base more than doubles the entire population of the United States. With 700,000,000 customers on its books, it is by far the most popular network operator on the planet. And yet, it doesn’t carry the iPhone. Not at the moment at least.
It was reported yesterday that Tim Cook was in China to meet with executives of the carriers Apple is already in business with, and with the chairman of China Mobile. Reuters received confirmation from Xi Guohua that the two big chiefs met each other to discuss “matters of cooperation“, almost certainly regarding the iPhone (WSJ also confirms the meeting took place). And it would surely be a massive boost to Apple if the two could strike a deal. Even if Apple could reach just a measly 1% of the subscriber base each quarter, that would add an insane 7 million iPhones to its sales figures.
Breaking China has proved something of a challenge so far for Apple in the smartphone market. Although China sales make up for a large percentage of its overall sales, that percentage has slipped from 19% in January-March quarter to just 13% in the last quarter.
One of Apple’s biggest stumbling blocks in China however is not its appeal necessarily. It’s price. An iPhone 5 is just far too expensive for most people to buy out right, and so there’s a clear need for the budget friendly ‘iPhone 5C’ to be released. If it fits in at the $300-$400 price point SIM-free, it’ll surely net Apple a healthy section of the market. Especially if it manages to get a deal negotiated with China Mobile.