If the two companies have indeed signed a contract -- something the Journal's sources could not confirm -- it would be the biggest carrier agreement Apple has ever struck.
China Mobile is the world's largest phone company, with 740 million mobile subscribers. That's about seven times more than the subscriber base of Verizon (VZ), the largest U.S. carrier.
Apple has scheduled a special event for Tuesday, Sept. 10, where it is widely expected to unveil two new iPhones: a so-called iPhone 5S, offering incremental improvements over last year's model, and the lower-cost iPhone 5C that the company is reportedly shipping to China Mobile.
But the announcement of two huge carrier deals and the release of iOS 7 -- the first major redesign of the company's mobile system software since the original iPhone -- could be just as important for Apple as it battles Samsung and Google's (GOOG) Android for control of the global smartphone market.
UPDATE: KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo is telling clients that China Mobile may delay deployment of the new iPhones until the company has rolled out more of its fourth generation TDD-LTE network. According to AppleInsider, that could push the carrier's iPhone 5C launch into November.
Despite its more-or-less mundane technology, Apple's device won over women.
By Michael Fitzpatrick, contributor
FORTUNE -- The Japanese were using their cellphones to watch TV, navigate with GPS, download music, make movies, pay bills, and check their emails years before American consumers were doing the same. Japan also had touchscreen phones eight years earlier than iPhone -- the Pioneer J-PE01. And yet it is no surprise that Apple's iPhone was the best-selling MOREMay 6, 2013 12:05 PM ET
Japan's e-wallet infrastructure is eight years old, but the technology has yet to really take off.
By Michael Fitzpatrick
FORTUNE -- How do you persuade a nation that is deeply in love with cash -- and even looks askance at credit cards -- to pay for goods and services with the swipe of a phone? Unfortunately for Japan's dawdling economy and the credit card firms who hope to thrust such mobile MOREFeb 20, 2013 8:44 AM ET
Big names are getting behind high profile Android roll outs in Japan.
In the U.S., we're lucky to get a little green robot. In Japan, Android phones are advertised by big names such as Lady Gaga, who is backing Sharp's IS03 on KDDI au. The ISO3 has the same display as Apple's iPhone 4 with an extra LCD below it.
The campaign follows NTT DoCoMo's entertaining Darth Vader campaign for the Samsung Galaxy S:
Vader has been MORESeth Weintraub - Nov 29, 2010 12:22 PM ET
With less than three weeks to go before Steve Jobs' June 9 keynote address, Apple may be close to a deal that would add two of Asia's hottest cellphone carriers to its growing list of international partners.
The Telecoms Korea news service reported late last week that Apple (AAPL) is planning a special joint release of the next-generation iPhone with two carriers whose names are synonymous with 3G: Japan's NTT DoCoMo MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - May 20, 2008 7:32 AM ET
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