Technological giant Apple has announced an agreement with China Mobile, the world's biggest cellphone network. The deal opens up a further significant chunk of the Chinese smartphone market.
Apple announced on Sunday that it would make its latest iPhone models available to China Mobile's more than 700 million subscribers from January 17.
The agreement, which follows years of negotiations, would see the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c available across mainland China. A major sticking point in discussions between the companies has been Apple's demand for sales volume guarantees.
"China is an extremely important market for Apple and our partnership with China Mobile presents us the opportunity to bring iPhone to the customers of the world's largest network," said Apple CEO Tim Cook.
Advantages on both sides
While demand for iPhone was once great in China, sales have slumped because of competition from South Korea's Samsung and cheaper Chinese competitors.
Analysts speculate that Apple could sell between 10 million and 40 million more iPhones. For China Mobile, the deal could attract more customers.
"We know there are many China Mobile customers and potential new customers," said China Mobile chairman Xi Guohua.
Apple already has agreements with China Telecom Ltd. And China Unicom Ltd., which together have some 455 million mobile accounts.
rc/lw (AFP, AP)