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Thursday, August 05, 2010, 08:35 am PT (11:35 am ET)

Apple close to acquiring Chinese game maker for $148M - report

Apple is rumored to be in talks to buy a Chinese mobile Internet service provider and game developer for $148 million, with a final agreement said to be "close."

Chinese business news organization SinoCast reported Thursday that Apple is in talks with Handseeing Information Technology Co, a company that specializes in rich Internet applications. The Chinese company's primary business model is said to be online gaming on mobile devices.

The report incorrectly stated that the believed price was $150 billion, likely a typo. The Global Times pinned the price at a more realistic 1 billion yuan, or $147.62 million U.S.

It also said that other potential buyers had recently come forward, adding "uncertainty" to the deal.

If the rumor is accurate, it could be yet another sign that Apple is interested in creating its own games for devices like the iPhone and iPad in-house. Last November, AppleInsider revealed that the Cupertino, Calif., company was looking to hire a AAA-caliber game developer for its team.

To date, Apple has only released one game on the iPhone App Store — Texas Hold'em. The $4.99 virtual card game was made available in 2008.

Games have proven to be some of the most popular third-party applications available for the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad. To capitalize on that, Apple will release a new application dubbed Game Center that will act as a centralized place for users to see what their friends are playing challenge them to an online match, or compare scores in specific titles. The service, similar to Microsoft's Xbox Live, will also offer gamers the ability to unlock achievements when playing compatible titles.

Apple's focus on games was also in the spotlight in April, when the company hired a new games editor for the App Store. That hire is now part of a team at Apple that handpicks and organizes titles for customers.