Tim Cook goes on television to hype ‘watershed’ iPhone deal with China Mobile


Adamant to tell the world about his company’s landmark iPhone deal with the world’s top carrier, China Mobile, Apple CEO Tim Cook did a rare move Wednesday by sitting down with CNBC to talk the specifics of the agreement in a high-profile television appearance.

Even better, Cook shared the spotlight with China Mobile Chairman Xi Guohua, who revealed that the carrier had netted 1.2 million total preorders for the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c as of January 13, ahead of the impending launch this coming Friday. That’s 60,000 iPhones per day on average since December 25, 2013.

Your video follows right after the jump…

Cook reaffirmed that Apple’s deal to sell the iPhone on China Mobile’s vast network is “for the long-term” and a “watershed day” for Apple.

“We see this as bringing the world’s best smartphone to the very largest and now the fastest network in China,” Cook told CNBC. Neither man would go on to speculate as to how many iPhone units China Mobile could move in its first year.

Give it a quick watch right below (Flash required – talk to CNBC).

Cook also praised China Mobile’s “fastest network” in China:

It’s a huge announcement. We’re incredibly impressed with them, we have deep respect for them. We see this as bringing the world’s best smartphone to the very largest and now the fastest network in China.

China Mobile has more than 760 million customers. To put that in perspective, that’s seven times the subscribers of Verizon Wireless, the nation’s top wireless carrier, or more than two times the customers of AT&T and Verizon combined.

China Mobile already has a reach to many cities where Apple lacks retail presence so Friday’s launch will bring the iPhone to more than 3,000 additional locations, which is a pretty big deal no matter how you look at it.

Both new iPhones go on sale on China Mobile’s network this Friday. The flagship 16GB iPhone 5s will retail for 5,288 yuan, or about $874, with the 64GB model priced at 6,888 yuan, or about $1,139. The 16GB iPhone 5c will retail for 4,488 yuan, or about $743. These are off-contract, unsubsidized price points.

China Unicom and China Telecom, Apple’s long-time iPhone partners in the 1.33 billion people market, have cut their iPhone prices in anticipation of the massive China Mobile launch. It has been estimated that about 42 million China Mobile subscribers already use the Apple smartphone.

Apple iPhone 5s 5c launch video (image 001)

With China Mobile’s recently launched TD-LTE network, these customers will be now able to use their devices on China’s fastest cellular network technology.

Yesterday, Cook told The Wall Street Journal that “there are lots more things our companies can do together in the future” so it’s perfectly conceivable that China Mobile will get to carry cellular-capable iPads and maybe other Apple products at a later stage.

But make no mistake about it, the elusive budget iPhone is not in the cards (yet) as Apple is not keen on sacrificing “quality over quantity”.

“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,” Cook told WSJ.

“Ever” really underscores it, doesn’t it?