China Mobile announcement sparks hope of iPhone debut

The world's largest wireless carrier plans to introduce a new brand for its mobile service on December 18.

Don Reisinger
CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
Don Reisinger

China Mobile, the world's largest wireless carrier, will unveil a new brand partner on December 18.

The carrier made the announcement Thursday but wouldn't say what company would be its latest partner. That hasn't stopped the rumor mill, however, from speculating that Apple will be on stage with the China Mobile team announcing its iPhone is coming to the carrier's network.

Apple has been courting China Mobile for years. The companies have been unable to ink deals for a wide array of reasons, including China Mobile's network limitations and claims that the carrier once wanted a piece of App Store revenue from its customers' app purchases. But now, the network issues appear to have been resolved, and Apple CEO Tim Cook has spent considerable time in China and is believed to have been in discussions with the carrier.

China is arguably the most important market for any device maker, let alone Apple. The iPhone is already available in the country on China Unicom and China Telecom, but China Mobile -- with its nearly 760 million subscribers across the country -- is the crown jewel.

Although the December 18 event could play host to the unveiling of the iPhone on China Mobile, there's a chance it won't. For years, rumors have swirled that Apple would be coming to China Mobile, and each time, it hasn't happened.

CNET has contacted Apple for comment on the announcement. We will update this story when we have more information.

(Via Wall Street Journal)