RIM has secured the backing of China Mobile, while the iPhone has been spurned in a row over revenue.
This will come as a blow to Apple, as China Mobile's 332 million customers offer the largest number of subscribers of any single mobile phone company.
A spokesman for China Mobile said that talks with Apple had been " temporarily stopped" but did not confirm whether they would restart.
Other sources within the company said that problems arose because Apple wanted to control the value chain and had been asking for as much as 30 per cent of the revenues from iPhone sales.
"Of course we could not agree," Gao Nianshu, general manager of the data department at China Mobile, revealed in a talk to students.
Reports in Chinese newspapers suggest that the BlackBerry will go on sale in the region before the end of the month.
This follows years of effort by RIM to launch into the only Asian market it has yet to tap. RIM hinted at a deal with the Chinese firm back in July 2007.
However, the BlackBerry debut does not guarantee success for RIM, as China Unicom's rival RedBerr y handset sells for less in China.
China Mobile picks BlackBerry over iPhone
By Matt Chapman on Jan 18, 2008 12:10PM