The chairman of China Mobile says he’s been talking with Apple about offering the iPhone and about 4G LTE technology. China Mobile is not yet a carrier of the iPhone, but it’s clear the two sides are talking and a deal could potentially be in the offing, considering Apple’s recent laser focus on China.
There is still no deal for the carrier to offer the iPhone, Wang Jianzhou told the Wall Street Journal. But the two are talking about 4G.
“China Mobile and Apple hope to find a solution for close collaboration” on the TD-LTE network and compatible products, Wang said in an interview in Dalian today. “We discussed this issue with Apple. We hope Apple will produce a new iPhone with TD-LTE. We have already got a positive answer from Apple.”
To be clear, TD-LTE is not the same LTE (subscription required) that AT&T and Verizon are deploying here in the U.S. The technology is slightly different, and it will require a device maker to put a separate radio inside the phone to work on the TD-LTE network deployed by China Mobile and a few other carriers, including Clearwire in the U.S. If Sprint were to go along with Clearwire’s TD-LTE plans, then the deal with China Mobile might lead to a 4G iPhone for Sprint too.
China Mobile wants the iPhone to add more subscribers and keep pace with competitor China Unicom, which does offer Apple’s smartphone.
Apple has been focusing its efforts on the Chinese market — with success so far. In its most recent quarter, Apple said it racked up more sales in the country than hometown favorite Lenovo had during the same time period.