Apple has reportedly inked a deal with China Mobile, which has more than 700 million subscribers, making it the largest phone network in the world by user base. Apple is expected to begin its rollout of iPhones to these users around December 18th. However, other reports say the two firms are still in talks. “We are still negotiating with Apple, but for now we have nothing new to announce,” China Mobile spokeswoman Rainie Lei told Reuters.
It’s been suggested for years that China could become Apple’s largest single market. The iPhone has recently reversed the trend of Android phones outselling Apple units in the U.S. and secured nine out of the top 10 phone sales slots in Japan. Recent figures support the long-held notion that Android dominates the smartphone market in China in the iPhone’s absence. China’s own Android-making companies have seen incredible success, and Xiaomi has grown so fast it’s aiming at Western markets, having attracted former Google exec Hugo Barra.