Apple announced deal with China Mobile for iPhone

7:08 PM, Dec 22, 2013   |    comments
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An iPhone with iOS 7 software, left, is displayed next to an iPhone with the older iOS 6 operating system. (Photo: Mark Lennihan AP)

NEW YORK (AP) - Apple has reached a long-awaited deal to bring iPhone to China Mobile, world's biggest phone carrier.

The companies announced a multi-year deal, to begin selling the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c in China on Jan. 17.

"We know there are many China Mobile customers and potential new customers who are anxiously awaiting the incredible combination of iPhone on China Mobile's leading network," China Mobile Chairman Xi Guohua said in a statement.

"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," Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a statement.

China Mobile says it is the world's largest mobile company, with 760 million subscribers, according a published report on CNBC's website. Access to its network has been seen as a crucial next step for Apple.

Both the carrier and Apple will sell the phone in their stores starting Jan. 17. Potential buyers can pre-register as of Dec. 25, the CNBC report said. The companies did not offer pricing details.

Several published reports earlier had said pricing was a hangup in deal because gray-market prices made the phones significantly more costly than in other markets.

Apple's smartphone market share has been on the rise in China in recent months. A published Dow Jones reported said Apple could sell as many as 39 million iPhones in the country in 2014 compared to the nearly 34 million iPhones sold worldwide in the most recent quarter.

Apple shares could surge Monday when the market opens.

Contributing: The Associated Press

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