Apple Inc. invites media to Beijing Sept 11 event - reports

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SummaryThe event has fuelled speculation that Apple Inc. may announce deal with China Mobile.

Apple Inc. has invited Chinese journalists to an event in Beijing on Sept. 11, just hours after it is widely expected to unveil its newest iPhone models in the United States, Chinese media reported on Wednesday.

The event would mark the first time that the company has held near-simultaneous briefings in the United States and in China, the world's biggest mobile phone market where Apple Inc. has been losing its star power to rivals like Samsung Electronics Co Ltd.

The event has fuelled speculation that Apple Inc. may announce a long-awaited deal with China Mobile Ltd, which is the world's biggest mobile phone company by customers and the only one of China's big carriers that does not have an agreement with the U.S. tech giant.

Apple Inc. and China Mobile did not immediately respond to emails and phone calls seeking comment. Top executives from the two companies met in China in late July, bolstering expectations that an agreement was near.

Some analysts, however, said Apple Inc. was likely to unveil a new product at the event and cut the months-long waiting time Chinese consumers have had for the latest iPhone.

"I think the primary purpose of the event will be for a new product launch," said Sandy Shen, a research director with consultancy Gartner in Shanghai. "Though an announcement with China Mobile is possible... I won't hold my breath."

Apple Inc. slipped to seventh place in second-quarter smartphone sales in China, according to research firm Canalys. Its China revenue for its fiscal quarter ended June 29 plummeted 43 percent from the previous period and 14 percent from the same period last year.

Apple Inc. is expected to unveil a less-costly iPhone at an event at its Cupertino, California, headquarters on Sept. 10. Analysts have said Apple Inc. needs a lower-priced device to drive growth in emerging markets such as China, where most consumers cannot afford its full-priced models.

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