tim cook china mobile

China Mobile‘s highly anticipated iPhone launch is now in full swing over in Beijing. After years of failed negotiations, Apple finally inked a deal with the carrier last month, giving it access to the worlds-largest subscriber base of 750+ million people.

We’ve been talking about the importance of this partnership for months now, but for those that needed a reminder, Tim Cook showed up in person at this morning’s launch. The CEO took photos, signed autographs and even answered a few questions…

Bloomberg reports:

“At China Mobile’s headquarters store in Beijing, Apple Chief Executive OfficerTim Cook and carrier Chairman Xi Guohua handed out autographed iPhones to a few customers.

“Today is just the beginning of China Mobile and Apple coming together to deliver the best experience in the world,” Cook said as a few dozen people came in to look at the iPhones on display. China Mobile said Jan. 15 it signed a multiyear agreement with Apple containing “broad potential” for future cooperation.”

Cook also fielded a few questions from the crowd, and a particular interesting one came up about Apple’s plans to offer a larger iPhone—a popular topic in the rumor mill these days. Obviously he didn’t answer the inquiry directly, but he didn’t say no either.

“We never talk about future things. We have great things we are working on but we want to keep them secret. That way you will be so much happier when you see it.”

The executive has been making similar comments for months now, suggesting that 2014 will be a big year for Apple. This of course has led to speculation that the Cupertino company is working on major product refreshes, completely new products, or both.

But back to China Mobile. All eyes will be on the carrier this weekend, and over the coming weeks, to see what kind of fruit its new partnership with Apple will bear. Apple also has a lot riding on this, as it currently ranks 5th in China’s smartphone market.

There’s no word yet on how well the launch is going, but China Mobile Chairman Xi Guohua said earlier this week that their total number of iPhone orders was in the ‘multi-millions.’

 Top image via Eunice Yoon

  • xipoxp

    Cook signed his name on those phones? Let me sell it to a Apple fan at a double price and buy another iPhone—yes, I have an iPhone for free now.

    • sambuzzlight

      exactly my thought when i read that… but i think he signed the iPhone boxes maybe and not the actual iPhones?

  • Toon

    big business for apple !

    • xipoxp

      Big business for Apple, but we might need to see how is this cooperation going. CMCC absolutely is the largest operator in China, but most of its clients contribute less than 40 RMB for monthly payment. But this time, CMCC starts its 4G plan from 138 RMB, so we cannot foresee how many iPhones can be sold from CMCC’s retail shops.

  • Steve Jobs

    Samsung: we’re coming. Grind your weapons.

    • nyangejr

      i thought Steve Jobs is dead!!!!!!

  • Stefano

    There’s always “Great things coming”, LOL I kid, I kid haha, can’t wait for something new!

    • FrankensteinBlack

      Exactly! The visionary innovator is dead and the bean counter finally counts the last beans (the china mobile holy grail). Now what?

      • Stefano

        Apple knows what they must do. They just have to act on their instincts and not sit to see what others are doing. Sometimes to get from where you are to where you need to be you’ll have to take the leap of faith. Apple needs to make a move because what they’re doing is redundant.

      • Maxim∑

        working with Jobs for 10+ years. He knows what to do that’s why he was chosen as the CEO he proved that last year by firing Forstall and making some serious executive changes internally. I hate these type of comments because clearly with the Mac Pro, Touch ID a 568 million dollar investment in flexible saphirre glass 24+ patents on 3D printing/liquid metal,flexible displays etc… and a 10.5 billion dollar investment in creating a new manufacturing line with ground breaking technology Apple still holds its vision and is preparing for something big. calling him a bean counter is pretty ignorant.

        Great things are coming but great things take time to make

  • Justin

    I want one.

  • How did he send tweet in China? VPN or something?

    • xipoxp

      It should be the VPN of Apple company. If Cook did actually send the tweet in China, he might be using internal VPN server of Apple. Could not be a commercial VPN service as some Chinese use.

  • Mike Colacone Saal

    What’s the odds that ‘big’ year subliminally means bigger iPhone and iPad?

  • Joseph A. Ahmad

    I’m extremely excited to see all the new products! I’m actually even more excited to see iOS 8 because I know there will be plenty of improvements on iOS 7.