Apple reaches iPhone deal with China Mobile

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AppleNew York/Beijing: Apple Inc. said it has signed a long-awaited agreement with China Mobile Ltd to sell iPhone through the world’s biggest network of mobile phone users.“In a deal that could add billions of dollars to its revenue,” Apple said its smartphones will be available to China Mobile customers starting 17 January. “Pricing and availability details for the iPhone 5S and 5C lines will be disclosed at a later date,” it said in a statement.

China Mobile, which has about 760 million customers, will begin registering orders for iPhone from 25 December, the company said on its account on the Sina-Weibo micro-blogging service.The tie-up between the pair, in the US company’s second-largest market after its home turf, provides a much-needed boost for Apple in a market where it’s trailing rivals. It will also give Apple extra firepower in its increasing global rivalry with South Korea’s Samsung Electronics Co Ltd.

Apple didn’t disclose financial terms of the agreement. Tim Cook, Apple’s chief executive, said in its statement that China is an extremely important market for the Cupertino-based company.In a smartphone market that’s booming, Apple’s sales have trailed those of its competitors. Shipments of iPhones in the country grew 32% year-on-year for the third quarter, about half of China’s Lenovo Group Ltd, which had the next slowest growth at 64% year-on-year.