Tim Cook ‘incredibly optimistic’ about China Mobile deal

Tim Cook (Palo Alto iPhone 5s5c launch, CNET 001)

Hot on the heels of a report claiming that Apple had shipped 1.4 million iPhone 5s units to China Mobile for its big launch this Friday comes word from the carrier’s Chairman Xi Guohua that the total number of iPhone orders is in the ‘multi-millions.’

After years of negotiations, Apple finally inked a deal with China Mobile last month and is set to begin offering iPhones through the provider this weekend for the first time ever. But according to Tim Cook, this is just the beginning of things to come…

The Wall Street Journal reports:

“Speaking in a small media briefing to Chinese media and The Wall Street Journal, Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook said he is “incredibly optimistic” about the outcome of the cooperation with the Chinese carrier.“We’ve gotten to know each other….today is a beginning, and I think there are lots more things our companies can do together in the future,” Mr. Cook said. […]

This is a rather interesting statement, as Cook certainly alludes to future cooperation with the carrier. He doesn’t identify anything specifically, but you could imagine the plans include Cellular-enabled iPads, which Apple sells with other Chinese carriers.

When questioned about the challenges Apple faces in China regarding cheaper smartphones, Cook said Apple wants to reach as many Chinese customers as possible by offering iPhones through China Mobile, but that its pricing strategy won’t change.

“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.”

As we’ve said before, it’ll be interesting to see how this all plays out. China Mobile has over 700 million subscribers—that’s 7 times the size of the largest US carrier Verizon—and already has a large group of unlocked iPhone users running on its network.

Both the iPhone 5s and 5c go on sale on China Mobile this Friday, and we should get some insight into how the weekend goes early next week. If not, we’re sure it’ll come up at some point during Apple’s Q1 2014 quarterly earnings call, slated for January 27.