China Mobile, the world’s largest carrier, hasn’t offered Apple’s iPhone yet. Tim Cook and China Mobile’s chairman have met several times over the last several years, presumably to figure out a deal, and that could come to fruition with the launch of the iPhone 5C (check out a huge gallery of the iPhone 5C here). China Mobile hasn’t been willing to subsidize an iPhone for its customers, which is largely too expensive for the market by some analyst estimates, and it also hasn’t supported the carrier’s networks in the past.
However, China will begin to issue new 4G licenses this year, Reuters said, that will support Qualcomm chip technology. Previous iPhones haven’t supported China Mobile’s 3D TD-SCDMA network, though licenses for new TD-LTE and FDD-LTE networks would enable Apple to sell a single device in China that would run on multiple carriers, Reuters explained. Apple, with a lower priced iPhone that could potentially support China Mobile’s network, could finally break into the carrier’s 740 million customers. It still can’t be too expensive, however, otherwise it’s going to risk pricing itself out of the market.
A lot of speculation around the iPhone 5C points to it as a device that was specifically designed for emerging markets, however, so we assume that was a huge blip on Tim Cook’s radar while creating the smartphone. Apple needs it to work: the company’s market share in China dipped to its lowest level since 2009 according to a recent report from Canalys. Samsung has the largest slice of the pie, followed by Lenovo, Yulong and LG.