Apple has won a technical license from the Chinese government to operate a version of the iPhone that could work with the country’s mobile network, the Wall Street Journal reports. The approval brings the company closer to debuting its hottest product in China’s massive mobile phone market. It’s not clear exactly how many bureaucratic hurdles remain, but some analysts predict a Chinese launch in the fourth quarter of this year.
While the iPhone has not done as well in Asian markets—where feature-rich smartphones are commonplace—as it has at home, there are indications that the product would be successful in China. Touch-screen phones are already proving to be a national favorite, and a robust underground market for unlocked iPhones already exists. One telecom research firm estimates there are already 1.5 million being used in the country.