China Unicom, China’s No 2. carrier with more than 140 million mobile subscribers has announced that they have struck a deal with Apple to bring the iPhone to China.
"We believe China Unicom's high-speed mobile broadband network, coupled with … (the iPhone) will create new communication and different experiences for customers in China," said Unicom CEO Chang Xiaobin at a news conference.
Here is some information that is available about the deal:
China Unicom has struck a three-year deal to bring Apple’s iPhone to its mobile subscribers. However, it’s not an exclusive deal according to sources familiar to the deal.
The company has listed both the 8GB iPhone 3G and 16GB and 32GB versions of the iPhone 3GS as models it will launch but the pricing details have not been disclosed.
It also looks like China Unicom will offer two iPhone models. The first model will not have Wi-Fi support which has apparently already received approval by the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. The second iPhone model will have both Wi-Fi and WAPI (a Chinese Wireless Standard) support.
There are rumors in the Chinese press that China Unicom has agreed to buy 5 million iPhones for $1.46 billion.
If China Unicom wants to be successful then it should take some pointers from the failure of the iPhone in India, the world’s second largest mobile phone market. Since the carriers there don’t offer any subsidy, the iPhone is so expensive that there have been very few takers.
So it will be critical for China Unicom to get the pricing right as iPhone users who can afford the high price probably have already bought the iPhone over eBay.