China Mobile: Report Jumps the Gun on iPhone Partnership with Apple

China Mobile, the world’s largest mobile operator, won’t confirm that it has a deal done with Apple for the Silicon Valley giant’s iconic iPhone, only telling a French news agency on Thursday that talks “are ongoing.”

The comment comes just hours after a report that the two companies had come to an agreement that would allow the Chinese wireless giant which has a whopping 700 million subscribers to sell the iPhone for the first time. A “person familiar with the situation” told the Wall Street Journal that it’s a done deal.

It’s a partnership that’s been rumored for a long time, but only in the past month has it become evident that it would come to fruition.

The iPhone has been available from China’s second and third largest mobile operators for a while now, but no version of the device has been compatible with China Mobile’s 3G network. The carrier is expected to introduce a 4G network at an event later this month, which could now include an official announcement about the iPhone.

One analyst told the WSJ that China Mobile might sell 1.5 million iPhones per month next year. The deal could help Apple make some major strides toward Samsung in global smartphone market share.

Apple had no comment on the report.

Follow senior online managing editor @Craig_Galbraith on Twitter.

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