According to reports by Reuters and the New York Times, Xi Guohua, the chairman of China Mobile, the world’s largest mobile phone carrier, said this morning that he has no announcement to make regarding an iPhone deal with Apple, Fortune is reporting. While speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a conference in Guangzhou, Mr. Guohua added that the company is still in talks with Apple to reach an agreement.
The highly anticipated deal was expected to go official today alongside the telecom giant’s unveiling of its 4G LTE network. Analysts had claimed that a deal with China Mobile could potentially be worth billions of dollars in revenue for Apple. Up to 759 million potential new China Mobile customers could gain access to iPhones, generating up to $3 billion in extra 2014 revenue, which is nearly a quarter of Apple’s projected revenue growth in its current fiscal year.
Analyst Jane Zhang of Gartner had previously commented on the much-rumoured deal: “They [Apple] need China Mobile more than China Mobile needs them”.
According to Lorraine Luk, the Journal reporter who had that scoop two weeks ago, China Mobile is still being “coy” about its plans to sell the iPhone. Meanwhile, the International Business Times’ Sophia Song reports that by Thursday (Chinese time), about 68,000 people had made online reservations for the iPhone, despite the lack of an official announcement.
“There is little reason for concern, however,” she adds, “as a China Mobile official, who requested anonymity, said the big picture of the cooperation between the Chinese carrier and the American electronics giant has been settled, and only details are still under negotiation.”
As a result, Apple’s shares (AAPL) took a $10 (1.8%) hit in early trading.