It looks like Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) has scored yet another victory in the battle for market share in Asia. Daisuke Wakabayashi, Lorraine Luk, Ian Sherr and Paul Mozur of The Wall Street Journal report that the company is preparing to ship its low cost iPhone to China Mobile Ltd. (NYSE:CHL) (HKG:941).

Apple china

A deal with China Mobile is key for Apple

The news comes less than a week after it was revealed that Apple had sealed a deal with NTT DoCoMo, Japan’s biggest carrier. If Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) has finalized a deal with China Mobile it would put to end years of negotiations between the two companies. China Mobile is the largest carrier in China with 700 million subscribers. That makes the company’s subscribership seven times the size of Verizon Wireless, the biggest carrier in the U.S.

Apple planning shipments to China Mobile

According to The Wall Street Journal, it is still unclear whether Apple and China Mobile Ltd. (NYSE:CHL) (HKG:941) have actually struck a deal. However, since the publication’s sources said Apple is preparing to ship low cost iPhones to the carrier, it would suggest that a deal has indeed been finalized.

Sources say Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) has simply asked Foxconn Technology Co., Ltd (TPE:2354) (OTCMKTS:FXFCOF)  to add China Mobile to the list of carriers which will receive shipments of the new low cost iPhone. At this point it is still unclear when the new handsets will be delivered to the carrier.

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) is expected to unveil the low cost iPhone, possibly called the iPhone 5C, along with the new flagship handset, the iPhone 5S, on Tuesday. It’s expected that both of them will then go on sale on Sept. 20.

Apple continues battling Samsung

Apple’s deals with DoCoMo and China Mobile come at a key time for the carrier as it battles Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. (LON:BC94) (KRX:005930) for market share in Asia. Currently the iPhone has been losing share to Samsung and low cost handset makers in China. In Apple’s third fiscal quarter, which ended in June, the company saw its sales in Greater China fall 14 percent compared to the same quarter a year ago. The company’s market share in China also fell, dropping to 5 percent and pushing it down to seventh place behind Samsung and a number of Chinese handset makers.

Analysts have been saying that a deal with China Mobile is an important step in Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s market share progress. This week Pacific Crest analyst Andy Hargreaves predicted that the company would have a record high launch this time around for the iPhone. He predicts that Apple will sell 10 million to 13 million new iPhone handsets in the first nine days it is available for sale. He said that number could go even higher if the company does indeed have deals with the biggest carriers in Japan and China.