China Mobile in Talks with Apple over iPhone

If successful, new deal could help boost sales for the U.S. technology giant in China -- the world's biggest mobile phone market.

China Mobile, the world's biggest mobile operator by subscribers, said Wednesday the company is in talks with Apple (IW 500/14) to offer the popular iPhone to its users in the Asian nation.

The company's domestic rivals -- China Unicom and China Telecom -- already offer the iPhone to their subscribers.

"Both sides have been making contact with each other. And both sides are willing to boost cooperation," Lei Yu, a spokeswoman for China Mobile, told AFP in response to a question over negotiations for the iPhone.

She declined to give further details.

China Unicom began selling the iPhone in 2009, joined by China Telecom in March this year.

If China Mobile also started offering the handset, it could help boost sales for the U.S. technology giant in China -- the world's biggest mobile phone market.

The Apple brand is wildly popular in China, where products such as the iPhone and iPad are coveted by wealthy consumers.

Greater China -- which includes Hong Kong and Taiwan -- has become California-based Apple's fastest growing region with revenues second only to the United States.

China Mobile had nearly 650 million subscribers by the end of last year, according to a filing with the Hong Kong stock exchange. China as a whole had more than one billion mobile phone users at the end of February.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2012

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