The world’s largest mobile phone service provider is still talking with Apple about bringing the iPhone to China, a top executive said Tuesday.
“We have an (non-disclosure agreement) with Apple so I can’t talk about it,” said Wang Jianzhou, China Mobile’s CEO, at the GSMA Mobile Asia Congress in Macau, China.
In September, Wang said China Mobile and Apple hoped to launch the iPhone in China as soon as possible, but that the companies had not yet reached an agreement.
Last year at the same GSMA conference, Wang acknowledged that his company was in talks with Apple about the iPhone, but added that he didn’t like the revenue sharing model that went along with the smartphone.
Many people have been anticipating when Apple might sign an iPhone deal with a Chinese network operator. As many as 800,000 iPhones are already in use in the country, brought in from abroad and tweaked to work around the security on the handsets, analysts estimate.
China Mobile, with over 436 million subscribers, more than the entire population of the U.S., offers Apple a big potential market. But Apple has other choices in China, such as China Unicom, though the company has far fewer subscribers.
China Mobile also has other choices in handset partners. The company is a member of Google’s Open Handset Alliance, a consortium of technology and service companies that develop products based on Google’s Android mobile phone platform, a new competitor for the iPhone.