Apple CEO Tim Cook has met with the chairperson of China Mobile in Beijing as part of negotiations to get the iPhone released on the carrier, which is the world’s largest mobile phone carrier by subscribers.
According to Reuters, the negotiations are part of a series of talks between Cook and senior government and business figures in China, which overtook the US as the world’s largest smartphone market last year.
“In the morning, Apple’s CEO Tim Cook visited China Mobile’s headquarters. China Mobile’s Chairman Xi Guohua and Tim Cook discussed matters of cooperation,” China Mobile spokesperson Li Jun says in a statement.
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China mobile has an estimated 700 million subscribers, a subscriber base roughly twice the population of the US.
While the iPhone is available in China through China Mobile’s competitors, including China Unicom and China Telecom, negotiations with China Mobile have stalled for years over the topic of revenue-sharing between the two companies.
The situation is made more difficult for Apple because China mobile uses proprietary TDMA-based standards for its 3G and 4G networks, while most other carriers offer 3G and 4G over Wideband CDMA.
The proprietary networks mean that even if consumers purchase an iPhone outright, it is still incompatible with China Mobile’s network, meaning the tech giant will need to develop a China Mobile-specific version of the iPhone if any deal is reached.
While further details of the negotiations are confidential, Cook says he is confident that China will become Apple’s biggest market in the coming years.