Apple announced Sunday it has reached an agreement with China Mobile to offer the iPhone on the world's largest wireless carrier next month, confirming long-standing rumors.
"China is an extremely important market for Apple and our partnership with China Mobile presents us the opportunity to bring iPhone to the customers of the world's largest network," Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a statement.
Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster expects that Apple could sell 17 million total iPhones on China Mobile in 2014, reaching approximately 2 percent of China Mobile's total subscriber base.
The rollout of the iPhone on China Mobile, which has nearly 760 million customers, was widely expected to occur earlier this month to coincide with the debut of 4G LTE service on wireless carriers in China. Xinhua, China's official state news agency, quietly reported in November that the iPhone would "officially" launch on China Mobile's network on December 18.
While the iPhone is currently offered by China Unicom and China Telecom, Apple has been courting China Mobile for years, seeking the vast number of new customers such a deal would create. Negotiations between the two companies were closely watched, with two visits by Cook to China to meet with China Mobile Chairman Xi Guohua widely reported on.
Update Dec. 23 at 7:18 a.m. PT: Added Piper Jaffray estimate on like iPhone sales volume at China Mobile.