Yesterday we reported that Apple CEO Tim Cook travelled to China this week, marking his second visit to the country in just 10 months.
With Cook’s trip presumably still underway, we’re starting to hear just what dear ole’ Cook has been up to over the past few days.
First off, Cook revealed in an interview with Chinese reporters that a cellular version of the iPad Mini will be hitting mainland China sometime in late January.
Also worth mentioning is that Cook lauded China as the country that will soon become Apple’s largest market, with the Apple CEO anticipating nearly 25 retail outlets eventually landing in the country.
Cook also noted that he’s a big fan of Chinese culture and has visited many times over the past few years.
Lastly, Cook also met with China Mobile chairman Xi Gouhua on Thursday, a noteworthy factoid given that China Mobile is the largest carrier on the planet and still doesn’t officially carry the iPhone. Should able be able to strike a deal with China Mobile, it would represent a tremendous growth opportunity for the company.
Gaining access to China Mobile’s more than 700 million subscribers would be a big step forward in Apple’s efforts to expand in China, the world’s largest smartphone market. The move also could provide Apple with another bulwark against competition from smartphones that run on other operating systems, especially Google’s Android system.
Keep in mind, though, that this isn’t the first time Tim Cook has met with China Mobile executives. Indeed, even Steve Jobs was said to have had detailed and high-level discussions with China Mobile in an effort to bring the iPhone to China Mobile.
Meanwhile, China’s other two carriers – China Telecom and China Unicom – have carried the iPhone for many months now.
China Mobile executives have said iPhone subscriptions likely would come only after the company introduces its 4G platform, which the carrier hopes to begin operating in the second half.
This holiday quarter, Apple’s iPhone sales were given a tremendous boost by the release of the iPhone 5. And while analysts might be quick to anticipate an iPhone sales slowdown, the opportunity presented by a deal with China Mobile could really take Apple’s iPhone sales into the stratosphere.