I walked by a China Mobile store (Link City in Shenzhen's Futian district) on my way to dinner tonight and lo and behold, there were not only (a lot of) iPhone advertisements but also actual iPhones and iPads on display. This was a first.
Advertisements on the wall showed what I believe to be discount pricing (probably with contract) of 4380元 ($723) for the iPhone 5s and 3380元 ($558) for the 5c. Of the two display tables in the store, one was dedicated to iPhones and iPads and there was a pretty good crowd around the table as I passed by. Not only were there Apple advertisements all over the place, but even Phil Schiller was present, his A7 chip announcement playing on a flatscreen TV. A majority of the ad and display space in the store had been dedicated to Apple. If this is any indication, China Mobile is planning to aggressively promote their new Apple partnership in the hopes of blunting any advances from China Unicom and Telecom.
Prior to today, Samsung and home-grown Android brands have had the world's largest mobile carrier all to themselves. Now (at least in the store I photographed) a majority of their ad-space has been handed to Apple. Apple in a China Mobile store? It feels like opposite day. Maybe it is and nobody told me.
(Update: I'm still not exactly sure