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China Mobile and Apple: Could It Finally Be?

By Daniel Sparks - Sep 4, 2013 at 6:00PM

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Has the long-awaited deal finally been made?

Apple invitation for media event in Beijing on Sept. 11. Source: MacRumors.

China deserves its very own Apple (AAPL 2.62%) media event, apparently.

Nearly identical to the invitations sent out in the U.S., Apple has now sent out invitations in China for a second event, just nine hours after its U.S. event. The event will be hosted in Beijing at 10:00 a.m. local time.

Invitations for satellite Apple media events were sent out in Berlin and Tokyo, too. But its China's media event garnering the most attention, and likely the cause of this morning's rally in Apple stock. 

Why would investors care? Looming on the horizon is a great behemoth: China Mobile (CHL). A long-awaited arrangement with the world's largest carrier would certainly merit its own media event.

The opportunity
There's two ways to look at Apple's position in China.

  1. Investors could consider the Cupertino tech giant's paltry market share to be indicative of the company's unfortunate weakness in the region.
  2. Apple's paltry market share could be viewed as a massive opportunity in the world's most populous country.

With a rumored lower-cost iPhone on the horizon, the latter is the wiser approach. The same glass-half-full approach in analyzing the Apple's opportunity in China Mobile will lead investors to a similar conclusion: the opportunity is massive.

China Mobile boasts 744.9 million wireless subscribers. Peers China Unicom and China Telecom, together, don't even add up to half of China Mobile's subscriber base.

Even more, just about 20% of China Mobile's subscribers are 3G subscribers while China Unicom and China Telecom have a 3G penetration rates of 39% and 52%, respectively. 80% of China Mobile's 744.9 million subscribers aren't on 3G -- that's a huge market of potential first-time smartphone upgrades.

Could it be?
If there were any monumental moment for Apple to finally make an arrangement with China Mobile, this would be the time to make it happen. Apple's first lower-cost iPhone could help the company make inroads in the important Chinese smartphone market.

According to data from Canalys, Apple's share of shipments in China in the most recent quarter was a paltry 4.8%. Apple would undoubtedly like to tap into this massive opportunity.

The grape vine over at Reuters said in August that the talks between Apple and China Mobile were looking good. Maybe a China Mobile deal is the underlying premise behind this Beijing Apple media event.

Apple and China Mobile -- it might finally happen.

Fool contributor Daniel Sparks owns shares of Apple. The Motley Fool recommends Apple. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple and China Mobile. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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Stocks Mentioned

Apple Inc. Stock Quote
Apple Inc.
$169.24 (2.62%) $4.32
China Mobile Limited Stock Quote
China Mobile Limited
China Unicom (Hong Kong) Limited Stock Quote
China Unicom (Hong Kong) Limited
China Telecom Corporation Limited Stock Quote
China Telecom Corporation Limited

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