Apple has signed a long-awaited agreement with China Mobile to sell iPhones 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 would be available to China Mobile customers from January 17. Pricing and availability details for the iPhone 5S and 5C lines will be disclosed at a later date, Apple said.
China Mobile, which has about 760 million customers, will begin registering orders for iPhone from December 25, the firm said on its account on the Sina-Weibo micro-blogging service.
The tie-up provides a much-needed boost for Apple in a country where it is trailing rivals, even though China is its second-largest market after the US. It will also give Apple extra firepower in its intensifying global competition with Samsung.
In a country where smartphone sales are booming, Apple has trailed its competitors. Shipments of iPhones in the country grew 32pc year-on-year for the third quarter -- about half of China's Lenovo Group, which had the next slowest growth at 64pc year-on-year.
China Mobile could gain 17 million new iPhone activations in 2014 alone, according to research firm Forrester -- more than the 16.8 million iPhones Apple sold in mainland China for the 12 months ended September.
But after an expected initial surge, Apple is likely to find itself back in a costly marketing battle with Samsung. (Reuters)