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China Mobile

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China’s smartphone market will experience a massive growth spurt over the next year – one that bodes well for all handset makers that cater to it, but particularly for Apple.

Research firm IDC expects Apple’s share of the smartphone market in China to double from this year to the next. The reason: The debut of the company’s latest iPhones and the expected signing of a long-rumored deal with China Mobile, the country’s largest mobile carrier, with its 700 million subscribers.

As I’ve noted before, China Mobile is the largest wireless carrier in the world and, as such, one of the few remaining carriers that can really move the needle on iPhone sales.

Approximately 180 million China Mobile customers use the company’s 3G network, and, according to ISI analyst Brian Marshall, that’s a decent proxy for assessing the new addressable market that a deal with the carrier would bring to Apple. Said Marshall, “In our view, this potential subscriber base could eventually be almost as large (in unit terms) as the opportunity from AT&T and Verizon in the U.S. combined.”

Hardly a surprise, then, that IDC has concluded that adding China Mobile as a carrier might double Apple’s iPhone sales in China within a year. The only question that remains now is when Apple and China Mobile will announce the deal. Soon, perhaps. As AllThingsD reported earlier this month, China’s Telecom Equipment Certification Center has issued a network-access license for a handset resembling the iPhone that runs on China Mobile’s network, and Apple is said to be preparing to ship iPhones to the carrier.

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