A report from The Wall Street Journal says the budget priced ‘iPhone 5C’ will be coming to China Mobile. While it has been rumored that China’s largest wireless carrier would offer Apple’s handset this go round, WSJ’s report adds a nice shot of credibility to previous reports.
A deal would cap years of negotiations between the two companies. Apple has tried to hammer out a deal with China’s largest wireless carrier that has 700 million subscribers, seven times the size of the U.S.’s largest wireless carrier Verizon Wireless. Greater China is Apple’s third biggest market after the U.S. and Europe in terms of sales.
While it isn’t clear if the signatures are all in place on a formal sales agreement, comments from people familiar with the matter say Apple has instructed their manufacturing partners to put China Mobile on their shipping lists.
Apple has asked Foxconn, its longtime contract manufacturing partner, to add China Mobile to the list of carriers slated to receive a new low-cost iPhone, one of these people said. It isn’t clear when the phones would be delivered. Apple is shipping two new iPhones this September, according to people familiar with the company’s plans, including a new high-end model and a cheaper version.
A deal with China Mobile is sure to help Apple regain ground lost in Asia to cheaper Android handsets. Apple’s sales in Greater China fell 14% from a year earlier to $4.6 billion during its fiscal third quarter ended June 29. The second quarter saw Apple’s China market share fall to 5%, dropping it to seventh behind leader Samsung, who had an 18% share.