China Mobile, the world’s largest wireless carrier, has yet to offer an iPhone to its customers. Despite talks between Tim Cook and the company’s board, in addition to rumors that Apple’s iPhone 5c was once destined there as a “budget” iPhone, China Mobile has so far held out on carrying a single one of Apple’s products, which are often viewed as too expensive for the Chinese consumer market and don’t run on its current network. That may all change on December 18.
According to The Wall Street Journal, China Mobile is gearing up to “introduce a new brand for mobile service,” which has most pundits assuming the iPhone is ready to hit the market in less than a month. Apple previously wasn’t able to provide a device that ran on the carrier’s TD-SCDMA network, though that barrier is being lifted as the carrier pushes toward the launch of its 4G network. Apple already received approval for a license to operate on that network.
So far, it sounds like much of the report is based on speculation, though with other major brands already available from China Mobile, it seems like the only major “new brand” left to launch is Apple. We don’t yet know what devices will launch, whether it will be the iPhone 5c and the iPhone 5s, or if Apple will sell an older model to help attract new customers at lower prices.