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China Mobile Ltd has yet to reach agreement with Apple Inc to introduce iPhone handsets on contract and will not release any news regarding an alliance with Apple, according to the company's chairman.
Xi Guohua, chairman of China Mobile, said customers need to have more patience to shop for iPhone devices running on China Mobile's wireless networks.
"China Mobile has yet to reach agreement with Apple, but good news deserves to be waited for, and we expect to release related cooperation information soon," Xi said.
Xi's remark dampened speculation that China Mobile, the country's biggest telecom carrier with a user base of 760 million, will announce a formal partnership with Apple on Dec 18.
Xi made the remarks during the China Mobile Global Partner Conference 2013 in Guangzhou.
China Mobile's Beijing branch opened online preorders for unnamed 4G star smartphone models last week.
Though the company did not specify the particular device, speculation on the web suggested that it was the iPhone 5S handset by demonstrating an image of a golden apple.
About 68,000 people made online reservations by Dec 18. However, no one knows when he or she will get a real iPhone 5S smartphone.
A China Mobile official, who requested anonymity, said the big picture of cooperation between China Mobile and Apple has been settled, but some detailed parts need further negotiation.
Bryan Wang, vice-president of Forrester, said in an email to China Daily that Apple has already sold more than 16.8 million iPhone handsets in China in the 12-month period ended on Sept 30. He noted that if China Mobile partners with Apple, iPhone sales will soar in China.
"Apple Inc could sell as many as 17 million new iPhones to China Mobile's users in the first year after the two companies tie the knot," Wang said.