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Apple And China Mobile Sign Long-Awaited Deal To Sell IPhones

posted 23 Dec 2013, 07:49 by Mpelembe   [ updated 23 Dec 2013, 07:50 ]

Apple announces a multiyear deal with China Mobile to sell its iPhone products through the world's biggest network of mobile phone users.

BEIJING, CHINA (DECEMBER 23, 2013) (REUTERS) -  Apple says it has signed a long-awaited agreement with China Mobile to sell iPhones through the world's biggest network of mobile phone users.

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In a deal that could add billions of dollars to its revenue, Apple said its smartphones will be available to China Mobile customers starting January 17. Pricing and availability details for theiPhone 5S and 5C lines will be disclosed at a later date, it said in a statement on Sunday (December 22).

China Mobile, which has about 760 million customers, will begin registering orders for iPhone from December 25, the company said on its account on the Sina-Weibo micro-blogging service.

The tie-up between the pair, in the United States company's second-largest market after its home turf, provides a much-needed boost for Apple in a market where it's trailing rivals. It will also give Apple extra firepower in its increasing global rivalry with South Korea's Samsung Electronics.

The deal was welcomed by China Mobile customers.

"The China Mobile signal is better. I have been a China Mobile customer for many years. I certainly hope to buy an iPhone from China Mobile," said 44-year-old He Binhai.

"The deal between China Mobile and Apple is really good. It becomes more convenient for us customers. If I want to buy an iPhone, I can buy directly from China Mobile in the future," said another customer, 47-year-old Ms. Xu, who is also an employee of a foreign company.

Apple didn't disclose financial terms of the agreement. Tim Cook, Apple's chief executive, said in its statement that China is an extremely important market for the Cupertino-based company.

China Mobile could gain 17 million new iPhone activations in 2014 alone, according to research firm Forrester, more than double the 16.8 million iPhones Apple sold in mainland China for the 12 months ended September, according to Forrester data.

But after an expected initial surge, Apple is likely to find itself back in a costly marketing battle with Samsung Electronics.

The deal has been years in the making, with numerous visits by Apple to the headquarters of the state-owned carrier in Beijing. Negotiations have been tricky, in part because of disagreements over details like revenue-sharing, analysts have said.