"Our customers like this kind of fashionable product," Wang Jianzhou, China Mobile's CEO, on the sidelines of the GSM Association's Mobile Asia Congress in Macau.
But in a speech at the conference, Wang said he doesn't like some of the new business models emerging in the mobile phone industry, including handset makers wanting to share revenue with mobile operators.
"We still think we can maintain the operator-centric model because we have the customers, the end users," Wang said.
China Mobile, the world's largest carrier in terms of subscribers, is sitting on top of one of the biggest wireless growth markets. While Apple's existing partner carriers, like AT&T and O2, operate in saturated (or nearly saturated) wireless markets, China Mobile is sitting pretty and does not need to make the same concessions to Apple.
The biggest obstacle to the iPhone's launch in China will be the carriers themselves. The question is this: Is China as a market important enough to Apple's future that it is willing to cut a deal with China Mobile? Or will Apple's arrogance keep the iPhone out of the world's biggest nation?