Apple Inc. (AAPL:US) says it reached a multiyear deal with state-owned China Mobile Ltd., the world's largest phone carrier by users -- with about 760 million customers -- to bring the iPhone to China early next year.
With this deal, sales of the iPhone could likely get a boost in China. There the iPhone was once extremely popular, but demand for it has slumped as cheaper smartphones from Samsung and Chinese brands have entered an increasingly competitive market.
"China is an extremely important market for Apple and our partnership with China Mobile presents us the opportunity to bring iPhone to the customers of the world's largest network," Tim Cook, Apple's chief executive, said in a statement, according to Reuters.
On Friday, shares of Apple closed at $549.02 while U.S. shares of China Mobile ended at $51.63, Reuters added.
The iPhone 5s and 5c are set to go on sale in Apple and China Mobile stores in China starting Jan. 17, and customers can register for phones beginning Dec. 25, the Associated Press reports. Pricing and the terms of the agreement haven't been announced by Apple and China Mobile.
The agreement, which follows six years of talks between top brass at both companies, provides Apple with access to 1.22 billion wireless subscribers in China as the tech giant attempts to increase its sales in markets that are emerging as well as tackle slowing growth, Bloomberg Businessweek reports, adding that for China Mobile, the deal deletes a competitive disadvantage in attracting high-end customers while it faces its first annual profit decline in at least a decade.