Speculation that Apple is planning to put a greater emphasis on the Chinese smartphone market is looking even more credible, following the latest round of rumors about the company's iPhone plans.
Apple is close to finally securing iPhone carrier agreements with two of the highest-profile holdouts – China Mobile and Japan's NTT DoCoMo – Bloomberg reported, citing insider sources.
Deals would give Apple subsidised access to a further 800 million new customers in the two markets, which could give be the shot in the arm needed to help counteract the iPhone's slowing growth worldwide.
Despite speculation, the sources say a deal with China Mobile won't be announced at Apple's September 11 Chinese iPhone unveiling or its Cupertino event the day before.
A separate Reuters story, also based on inside sources, asserts that China Telecom and China Unicom will both launch Apple's newest iPhone models within days of the September 11 event.
If true, this would mark a change of strategy for Apple, which in the past had waited months before launching its new products in China.
China Telecom meanwhile appears to have accidentally confirmed the widespread rumors that Apple will use this week's launch events to unveil the successor to the iPhone 5 – the iPhone 5S – and a lower-cost version aimed at emerging markets, the iPhone 5C.
In a post on popular Chinese microblog Weibo, the verified China Telecom account posted an ad for advance orders of the two devices, complete with photos of the new phones, Wall Street Journal's ChinaRealTimeReport said.
The post has since been taken down and the preorder page modified to a more generic landing page, but not before screenshots of the ad and pages were widely spread via Weibo.
This also provides more evidence to support the suggestion that the new iPhones will hit the Chinese market within days of launch.