China Mobile’s Planned App Store Leaves Apple in the Dust

How do you say “Screw You” Apple in Chinese?

China Mobile, the world’s largest cellular provider by subscribers, announced today that it will be launching an app store by year’s end. (That is, as long as their 3G network is functioning in time.)

Earlier this year, it was reported that talks to bring the iPhone to China had broken down between China’s dominant carrier and Silicon Valley’s Apple after the two disagreed over the Mobile Market. China Mobile apparently wanted to be able to sell iPhone apps in their Mobile Market, which Apple refused to permit.

Just a day after China Mobile put out quarterly results with warning that growth has slowed and the average revenue per user has dropped, the company’s move is one step in regaining its profit momentum.

“We believe that China Mobile will remain the strongest operator in a three-player China telecom market,” wrote Citi analysts in a note emailed to reporters Tuesday.

According to its earnings report released yesterday, China Mobile had 477 million subscribers at the end of the first three months, in a country where the total market of subscribers is over 648 million.

The carrier also released some data usage figures, including the stat that subscribers sent 174 billion text messages on the carrier’s network, up from 157.6 billion compared to a year ago. It also said that it had 133.99 million users signed up to its MMS service, up from 128.19 million a year ago, and some 384 million users to its mobile music service, an increase from last year’s 355.46 million.