Together at last: China Mobile’s Xi Guo-hua and Apple’s Tim Cook

January 15, 2014, 12:51 PM UTC

Cook and Xi in Beijing. Source: CNBC

FORTUNE — After years of long-distance negotiations, the chairmen of Apple (AAPL) and China Mobile (CHL) staged their first joint press conference in Beijing Wednesday.

The meeting came two days before China Mobile was scheduled to begin selling iPhones to its 760 million subscribers.

CNBC reports that ahead of Friday’s launch, China Unicom (CHU) and China Telecom (CHA), the country’s No. 2 and No. 3 carriers, respectively, cut their iPhone prices.

In the U.S., investors have been placing bets on whether the China Mobile deal will enable Apple to win back the share it has been losing to Korean and Chinese manufacturers in the world’s largest mobile phone market. 

“As of this weekend we will be selling iPhones in more than 3,000 additional locations,” Apple CEO Tim Cook told the Wall Street Journal. “China Mobile already has a reach to many cities that Apple does not have a reach to.”

The Journal quoted China Mobile CEO Xi Guo-hua saying that “millions” of Apple’s iPhones already have been ordered by the carrier’s customers.

Apple hit $556.75 in pre-market trading.

That’s not what CNBC’s Eunice Yoon heard. In the story accompanying her video report, she wrote that between Dec. 25 and Jan. 13 China Mobile had received 1.2 million pre-orders, or 60,000 per day.

In a separate report Tuesday, the Journal reported, citing “a person familiar with the matter,” that Foxconn had shipped 1.4 million iPhones to China Mobile.

iPhones are also being assembled for Apple by Pegatron, a Taiwanese manufacturer.

In a December survey of Apple analysts, estimates for how many iPhones Chine Mobile would sell in 2014 ranged from 5 million to 39 million.

Apple shares, which closed at $546.49 Tuesday, up $10.66 (2%), added another $10 overnight.