China Mobile, the he largest phone carrier in the world with about 700 million subscriber, is the next big prize for Apple.  At present, China Mobile  does not carry the iPhone.

It is not a surprise that Apple CEO Tim Cook paid a visit to China Mobile, but a statement from China Mobile appears to throw cold water on any immediate decision for China Mobile to carry iPhone.  “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 according to Reuters.

China Mobile had been in desperate need for a flagship high-end smart phone.  Apple had been negotiating with China Mobile to make iPhone its flagship phone to fuel further iPhone growth in China.

Late last year in a surprise move, China Mobile chose Nokia‘s Lumia 920T, a phone based on Microsoft Windows Phone 8 over iPhone 5. Lumia 920T is the Chinese version of the flagship Nokia Lumia 920 available in the United States.  Interestingly, China Mobile did not choose a Google Android phone as its flagship.

The biggest fall in four years in Apple stock on December 5th was attributed by some experts to Nokia’s win in China.

Apple’s Achilles’ heel is that it demands larger subsidies from carriers compared to its competition. Apparently, China Mobile is playing hardball and is not willing to provide the kind of subsidies that Apple traditionally demands from carriers. Some experts think that the real reason is that China Mobile uses a home grown 3G network and there are technical difficulties in adopting iPhone for this network.  ...Read more at Forbes