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China Mobile Still Negotiating with Apple on iPhone Sales

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China Mobile had admitted that it is still a long way from securing a deal to sell Apple's iPhone, despite having been in talks since 2009.

China Mobile'c President, Yue Li told its Worldwide Developers Conference that the delay is now more due to business issues and the technical problems making the smartphone work on its unique TD-SCDMA based 3G network.

"Besides the technical issues, the business model and benefit sharing still need further discussion," Li told the conference.

"We look forward to working hand in hand with Apple," Li said, adding that the companies came close to an agreement last year, but it fell through on details.

Although he did not elaborate on the problems, it has been suggested that they boil down to Apple's usual demand for higher network subsidies, which China Mobile usually avoids, and the mobile network's own usual demand for a share of mobile content revenues. Apple has never shared its revenues with other networks.

China Mobile has over 700 million customers, of which around 80 million are using its 3G network, making the carrier a lucrative market for Apple, if the two companies can secure an agreement.

China Mobile has also lost market share to its two smaller rivals, both of whom carry the iPhone on their own 3G networks, but this does fit in with the government's shake up of the industry a few years back to try and create a more level playing field in the market.

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Tags: china mobile  apple iphone  China