Apple in China: CEO Tim Cook 'incredibly optimistic' about iPhone prospect with China Mobile

China Mobile offers more than 760 million potential customers, although Apple still faces competition from cheaper handsets made by local companies

Following last month’s announcement that they had completed a deal with network operator China Mobile, Apple CEO Tim Cook has said that he is “incredibly optimistic” about the company’s future in the country.

“Today is a beginning, and I think there are lots more things our companies can do together in the future," said Mr Cook at a media briefing reported by The Wall Street Journal.

China Mobile’s chairman Xi Guohua has said that his company’s customers have already ordered millions of iPhones, although exact sales figures have yet to be released from China Mobile or from Apple. These are expected later this month.

Apple had previously inked deals with the two smaller state-run telecoms in the country, but the agreement with China Mobile is significantly larger than previous agreements.

"As of this weekend we will be selling iPhones in more than 3,000 additional locations," said Mr Cook. "China Mobile already has a reach to many cities that Apple does not have a reach to."  

With more than 760 million customers, China Mobile is the world’s largest network. Apple are hoping that the new deal will help provide a boost to sales, especially in China where the company’s market share declined from 6.2 to 7.9 per cent in the third quarter last year.

However, despite the potential userbase provided by China Mobile (it has twice as many customers as there are people in the US) Apple will still be challenged by competition from local companies such as Xiaomi and Huawei.

These manufacturers offer cheaper smartphones running the Android operating system, although Apple says that their target has never been to provide this sort of volume.

"Apple has always been about making the best products, not the most products, so that's always our North Star and that's not going to change ever," said Mr Cook.

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