In what clearly foreshadows the launch of Apple's iPhone on China Mobile, the world's largest wireless operator, a critically important Chinese regulator has awarded the final license necessary for Apple Inc.'s iPhone to run on China Mobile Ltd.'s mobile network.
According to the Wall Street Journal, this is the most compelling evidence to date that China's supreme mobile carrier will soon extend coverage to the iPhone for the first time.
The approval marks the imminent opening of a massive new market for Apple. Due to a proprietary network standard used by China Mobile, the carrier that boasts more than 700 million customers - or seven-times that of U.S. carrier Verizon Wireless - has been unable to officially sell the iPhone.
As I reported Monday, expansive carrier deals in two of Asia's most critical markets would expose the iPhone to an estimated 900 million potential new subscribers. Chris Whitmore, an analyst with Deutsche Bank, estimates that Apple's partnerships with China Mobile and NTT DoCoMo will result in at least 30 million additional iPhone sales next year.