China Mobile says iPhone talks scale biggest hurdle

Journalists test an Apple iPhone following its introduction in Berlin September 19, 2007. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

HONG KONG (Reuters) - Talks to bring Apple Inc's AAPL.O iPhone to mainland China have cleared their biggest hurdle and are now focusing on practical issues, the country's top mobile operator China Mobile Ltd 0941.HK said on Friday.

But there is no timetable for when China Mobile would bring the iPhone to mainland China, a spokeswoman said. “Apple is no longer insisting on a revenue-sharing policy, so the biggest hurdle for China Mobile to bring in the iPhone has been cleared, but there are practical issues still to be resolved,” said China Mobile spokeswoman Rainie Lei.

Apple has decided to stop requiring that wireless network companies pay it part of the subscription fees they get from iPhone users. Instead, they will subsidize the devices up front to make them cheaper.

Apple, which unveiled a next-generation iPhone with faster Internet access earlier this month, does not have a deal to sell iPhones in China, the world’s biggest cell phone market.

Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs has said the company hoped to roll out the iPhone later this year in China and Russia.

Reporting by Vinicy Chan; Writing by Sophie Taylor; Editing by Edmund Klamann