China Mobile launches TD-LTE service - but iPhone is still MIA

China Mobile officially launched TD-LTE service Wednesday, as had been expected. However, the company has still not announced a deal with Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) to support the company's iPhones on its network, an announcement that had been expected alongside China Mobile's network launch. "We hope to offer iPhones on the company's network soon," CEO Li Yue told the Wall Street JournalChairman Xi Guohua said his company had no announcement to make on any iPhone deal, according to Reuters. Earlier this month the Journal reported that a deal between Apple and China Mobile was done and would be announced on or around Dec. 18.

However, Apple's absence may just be a result of timing. Other OEMs, such as Samsung Electronics, Sony Mobile Communications, Lenovo, HTC and Huawei were showing off TD-LTE phones at China Mobile's conference to unveil the service. "China Mobile is trying to rally other smartphone makers to make more 4G handsets compatible with its network. So it would not be appropriate to announce the iPhone deal during the global partner conference," Diana Wu, an analyst at Capital Securities, told the Journal.

China Mobile will market its TD-LTE service under the 4G brand "And," which can be translated as "a new dream." China Mobile has the largest lead among its rivals in building out its TD-LTE network, which is expected to reach 100 cities covering 500 million people this year.

"While the missing announcement may be perceived negatively, we see this as a non-issue and believe this is more of an issue of timing and ultimately expect an agreement to be reached," Wells Fargo analyst Maynard Um wrote in a research note.

For more:
- see this WSJ article (sub. req.)

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