Earlier this week, we passed along a report that Tim Cook was on a business trip in China. No one really knows the exact nature of the visit, but he has been meeting with high-level government officials, and dropping in on Apple retailers.
And according to a new report, he’s also been talking with China Mobile’s Xi Guohua. The CEO is said to have met with the chairman, who sits atop the world’s largest carrier, in Beijing today to discuss ”matters of cooperation.”
“Apple Inc’s Chief Executive Tim Cook met with China Mobile’s Chairman Xi Guohua on Thursday to discuss “matters of cooperation,” a China Mobile spokesman said, raising hopes that a deal between the two tech giants may move forward.
“In the morning, Apple’s CEO Tim Cook visited China Mobile’s headquarters. China Mobile’s Chairman Xi Guohua and Tim Cook discussed matters of cooperation,” said Li Jun, a China Mobile spokesman, in an emailed statement.”
This actually isn’t the first time Tim Cook has visited with China Mobile. Back in July of 2011, when Cook was Apple’s acting-CEO, he was spotted walking through the lobby of the carrier’s headquarters surrounded by an entourage of executives.
Rumors of a partnership between the two have been circulating for years now, but so far nothing’s materialized. Word has it that the companies have been struggling to come to an agreement on partnership terms, which has stalled negotiations.
It’s certainly not a lack of demand though, as the carrier has around 10 million unlocked iPhones running on its network. And the handset’s popular on the other two big Chinese operators as well, who broke launch weekend sales records last month.
It’s important to understand how crucial a partnership with the carrier is to Apple. A deal would give it access to the largest subscriber base in the world, of 700+ million, and significantly boost its presence in China, which it desperately needs.