Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) is always the focus of rumors, including a string of them recently which suggested that a deal with China Mobile was either done or close to done. The two companies have reportedly been working on a deal for at least six years, according to Fortune.

Apple iphone 5S and 5C

Today those rumors took yet another step with a Chinese website which was said to previously have been offering the iPhone 5S and 5C for preorder on the China Mobile network. However, it appears as if that was just wishful thinking, a mistake or a hoax. Or perhaps the company let the cat out of the bag just a little too early. Take your pick at this point.

China Mobile subsidiary said to accept Apple preorders

Philip Elmer-DeWitt of Fortune reports that one of China Mobile Ltd. (NYSE:CHL) (HKG:941)’s subsidiaries did have a page up saying that it was accepting preorders for both the iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C on the carrier’s network. The subsidiary is located just outside of Shanghai. According to Fortune, the site in question went live Monday night local time in China. However, it was later taken down and replaced with this message in Chinese (translation provided via Google Translate):

“Reservation page information update, will be reopened later appointment. Please try again later, thank you for your support of Suzhou Mobile!”

China Mobile says no deal with Apple yet

The first hint that there was a problem with the site came from a spokesperson for China Mobile Ltd. (NYSE:CHL) (HKG:941), who reportedly told CNN today that they have not made a deal with Apple. That tidbit, plus the fact that the website has been taken down, suggests that it may have been just a hoax. It could also have been wishful thinking on the part of the subsidiary.

Others may be speculating that the posting of the webpage was premature and simply signals that a deal will be announced soon. Analysts from several firms have said they expect a deal between Apple and China Mobile at least by the end of next year, if not by Chinese New Year.

Shares of Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) rose 2% in late morning trading after the initial story about the alleged preorders on China Mobile’s network.