Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) CEO, Tim Cook, recently met with the chairman of China Mobile Ltd. (NYSE:CHL) (HKG:0941) – the world’s largest wireless carrier. With millions of subscribers, China Mobile would be a strong ally for Apple – though no deal has been struck yet.
Cook, on his second visit to China in less than ten months, met with the carrier while he was in the country. But in his recent interview with Sina Tech, Cook would not say what the subject or outcome of the meeting was. Rumors of an iPhone made available on China Mobile have been circulating for years, and this news is likely to stoke the fires somewhat.
The meeting was confirmed to CNBC by a spokesman for China Mobile Ltd. (NYSE:CHL) (HKG:0941), who said that the two sides discussed “matters of cooperation.” However, a confidentiality agreement was reportedly signed, and no further details of the talks were given.
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The iPhone is currently available on the China Unicorn and China Telecom carriers. A month ago, China Mobile’s president confirmed that talks between the company and Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) were ongoing, but that a deal had not yet been reached.
Analyst Amit Daryanani of RBC Capital Markets believes that Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) could grab 13 percent of China Mobile’s 75.6 million high-speed 3G subscribers. That figures doesn’t include the almost 700 million total subscribers the carrier has – many of whom may decide to switch their contracts to iPhone subscriptions.
Back in November, Daryanani predicted that a deal between Apple and China Mobile Ltd. (NYSE:CHL) (HKG:0941) could add roughly $3 to Apple’s annual earnings per share, as well as $45 to Apple’s stock price.
The number of subscribers to 3G is booming in China, with a year-on-year growth rate of 88 percent in 2012 – making a total of 222 million subscribers. As the only major carrier in China without an iPhone deal in place with Apple, market watchers believe that China Mobile’s smartphone adoption rates have been stifled without the availability of the device.
Whilst he was visiting China this month, Cook also visited an Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) reseller, HE took Apple’s marketing chief, Phil Schiller, along for the trip. The pair were spotted chatting with staff of Dragonstar, an authorised Apple reseller at the China World Shopping Mall.
Cook also met with Miao Wei, China’s industry and information technology chief, to talk about the tech industry, Apple’s operations in china, and the world communications market.
The last time Cook went to China was to visit the controversial Foxconn plant where many of Apple’s iPhones are made. The plant was previously accused of improper labour practices and harsh working conditions, though Apple has since begun monthly audits on its suppliers’ factories.
Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s shares were up 0.54 percent in today’s market, to $519.89.