China Mobile president says iPhone deal is still in the works

The iPhone 5 is slated to land in China on December 14. China Unicom and China Telecom have already started taking pre-orders, but unfortunately, China Mobile — the largest carrier in the world — will once again be sitting on the sidelines.

The two companies are still discussing a deal though. China Mobile president Yue Li confirmed yesterday that the carrier has been in talks with Apple for the past three years to bring the popular iPhone handset to its 700 million subscribers…

Unwired View (via AppleInsider) reports:

“Speaking at 2012 China Mobile Worldwide Developer Conference, when asked about availability of iPhone, he told the audience that “technology is not a problem, [it’s] mainly about business model and benefit-sharing issues”.

Translated into the human speak, it means that Apple and China mobile are now engaged in negotiations about order commitments, price, subsidy amounts and revenue sharing.”

Another obstacle standing in the way of an Apple-China Mobile deal is the carrier’s oddball network technology. Much like T-Mobile USA, China Mobile uses a one-off network tech called TD-SCDMA that is not currently officially supported by the iPhone. But also like T-Mobile, unlocked iPhones can be, and are, used on its lower-level 2G network with some tinkering.

Should Apple and China Mobile ever reach an agreement, analysts believe that the deal could double Apple’s presence in the Chinese smartphone market. It would also give Apple’s stock a much needed booster shot, as it fell some 36 points yesterday.