Customers queue to buy Apple's new iPhone 5c and 5s at the Wangfujing flagship store on September 20, 2013 in Beijing, China. China Mobile, the world's largest mobile carrier, will begin selling iPhones in January. - 

The deal between Apple and China Mobile has been in the works for years, and the number of potential new iPhone buyers is stunning. 

"China Mobile has more subscribers than six Verizons," said Forrester Research analyst Frank Gillett. "So there's an awful lot of subscribers that Apple could not access before."

Gillett notes that the number of people in the market for an iPhone is likely to be far less. First, millions in China already own iPhones. They simply use them through a different carrier. And the field is crowded with competitors like Samsung and Lenovo, companies that make phones which cost a fraction of what the iPhone is expected to. 

Peter Wahlstrom, an analyst with Morningstar says he doesn't think the comparatively high cost of the phone will deter everyone.

"It's quite easy for someone to save up and want to show the iPhone as a potential status symbol," Wahlstrom said. And, he points out, Chinese New Year is a season of giving and receiving presents. It seems reasonable to imagine that at least some of those gifts will be new iPhones. 

Follow Noel King at @noeleking