"Apple and China Mobile can do a lot more things together. I really see today as a beginning, not the end. Our work just begins," said Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook at an Apple Store in Beijing where he and China Mobile Chairman Xi Guohua greeted customers and handed out autographed iPhones, CNNMoney reported Friday.
The partnership with China Mobile puts Apple within reach of 700 million Chinese subscribers. Deals with other carriers have Apple linked to about 450 million subscribers.
Both figures are higher than the entire U.S. population, which is about 314 million.
But pricing is an issue in China, where there are many competing brands and knock-offs that make not only cheaper phones, but cheaper applications, an important revenue stream for Apple in other countries.
A 16 GB iPhone 5s is listed on Apple's China website at $874 and a similar 5c model is listed at $742, CNNMoney reported.
Estimates vary, but analysts predict Apple will sell between 10 million and 24 million iPhones in China in 2014.
Currently, Apple is the fifth most popular mobile phone brand in China with 6 percent of the market. It trails Samsung, Lenovo, Yulong and Huawei, industry tracker Canalys reports.