A deal has been signed between US tech giant Apple and China Mobile – the largest carrier in the world.
The iPhone will now be made available to the company’s 760 million subscribers as part of a strategy from Apple to boost its sales in the world’s most populous nation, where it has previously struggled against growing competition from industry rivals.
China Mobile is one of three networks operating in the country to be offered the first 4G licenses earlier in December.
The deal is widely expected to increase Apple’s market share, with chief executive Tim Cook saying that China is essential for the Californian tech company.
Earlier in the year, Cook said he believed the Asian country would at some point replace the US as Apple’s biggest market.
While China Mobile hasn’t previously counted the iPhone among the range of devices it offers to its subscribers, the country’s two other largest operators – China Telecom and China Unicom – have already made Apple’s flagship product available.
China is the leading country when it comes to smartphone use; it is estimated that around 1.2 billion individuals there have regular access to a smartphone.
Some analysts consider the deal with China Mobile to be the most significant undertaken by Apple in recent years.
However, perhaps notably for internet marketing specialists in the country, figures have indicated that iPhone sales have dipped, with many consumers turning to more affordable handsets from Apple’s rivals – including South Korean developer Samsung, as well as a number of Chinese tech firms.