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Unicom offered no comment on price for the device

The iPhone is certainly one of the hottest smartphones going today. The device is available in most parts of the world either officially or through importers and the grey market. One country that has not had an official iPhone offering so far is China. Ironically, China has more mobile phone subscribers than the entire population of the U.S. making it a huge market for the iPhone.

China Unicom announced today that it has signed a deal with Apple that will give it a three-year exclusive on the iPhone. DailyTech previously reported that the Chinese iPhone would lack Wi-Fi and that caveat has proven to be true. The big problem with that for China Unicom is that the iPhone is already available through importers in China with Wi-Fi enabled.

The iPhones will officially go on sale in China in Q4 2009 and Unicom says that it will not share revenue with Apple. This is a big change for Apple; the other exclusive partners share revenue with Apple as part of their exclusive deal.

Unicom will buy the handsets from Apple at wholesale prices and resell them to subscribers with some sort of subsidy. Unicom officials didn’t elaborate on what the sales price for the devices will be or what the subsidy will amount to. Previous rumors pegged the price Unicom was paying at $439 per iPhone, but that is unconfirmed.

Chinese research firm BDA China Ltd estimates that there may be 1.5 million iPhones already in use in China so the official handset will face stiff competition from itself and other devices set to hit the market this year. The other devices include new handsets from HTC and others.

Unicom has licensed 3G spectrum and will begin rolling out the 3G networks in China in September. Grey market iPhones sell for $680 in China reports the Wall Street Journal, so pricing may be an issue for consumers looking to get an official iPhone in Q4.



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Oh God I hope the Chinese are not that Stupid!
By iConned on 8/28/2009 2:37:10 PM , Rating: 1
OK a lot of people have been iConned into buying this crap, but I hope the Chinese know better since they will at least think twice before spending hundreds of dollars (over 2 months income) on this over-hyped garbage.

The iPhone is made and designed by chinese firms (ok the cute plastic box was designed by crApple), so why don't they just come up with something better on their own?




By spicecomp on 8/28/2009 2:52:30 PM , Rating: 2
I hope you mean Taiwan's Hon Hai is designing and manufacturing the iPhone in China. Taiwan is not China.


By akugami on 8/28/2009 5:27:12 PM , Rating: 2
The original article that DT links to should have better quoted the Chinese price for the iPhone. While I'm sure the older 3G iPhones are cheaper now, the newer models are generally the same price as in other markets once you exchange the currencies to wherever you're living.

The grey market iPhone sells in China for roughly 3,075 to 6,150 CNY (Chinese Yuan) which is roughly equivalent to $450 to $900 USD. I think the price range reflects older model and newer model phones.

This article, written and posted before the China Unicom announcement, provides some details and information that might interest others.
http://www.mobinode.com/2009/08/02/all-about-iphon...

The average family in China can't afford really afford these expensive phones. It's not just a few months wages and you're good to go on an iPhone as the poster iConned would suggest. More likely, the average person would have saved up a minimum of six months of wages in order to buy an expensive, and not subsidized, Nokia or iPhone.

The biggest challenge to China Unicom's sales of iPhones is, as noted, not the price but the fact that the grey market iPhones have WIFI. These phones can be easily smuggled over to China through Hong Kong.

And btw, iConned, whoever you are, at least have the courage to use your normal DT handle. If you want to shit on Apple for no valid reason that to shit on Apple then have the courage to take the negative hit. There are enough valid reasons to criticize Apple (or most companies) without you needing to fling mud.


By rudy on 8/28/2009 5:18:56 PM , Rating: 2
They do copy it but part of Chinas problem is they do not have brand name recognition. All over the world when people think of china they think of cheap and junk. So even if they make a product that is better they will have a hard time convincing buyers. So instead they just go with the flow and make cheap knock offs. After all why would you pay more then an iPhone for an iPhone knock off?

Also my guess is this will sell like crazy over there, they love hot foreign items as much as the next country.


By QueBert on 8/30/2009 10:25:36 PM , Rating: 2
The iPhone is 3 generations old, and still nothing is even close to touching it. Not an Apple person myself, but you couldn't pay me to use anything except my iPhone. You make it sound like it would be easy to come up with something better. If RIM, Nokia, Motorola & Ericcson can't do it. It's doubtful anyone will. I'll never own a Mac, but you'd have kill me to pry my iPhone out of my hand. Same goes for my 1st gen Touch.


WiFi
By eddieroolz on 8/28/2009 5:41:30 PM , Rating: 2
Can anyone remind me why the Chinese iPhone lack WiFi?

I thought of it as preventing porn viewing, but that doesn't quite add up.




RE: WiFi
By grath on 8/28/2009 7:21:51 PM , Rating: 2
My best guess is that maybe China Unicom relys more heavily than its western counterparts on usage based data plans as a revenue generator and thus would want all data to go through its network. It would also prevent using anything like Skype or Google Voice from circumventing voice service charges by using wifi.


RE: WiFi
By sprockkets on 8/28/2009 9:44:33 PM , Rating: 2
It's something the government does not allow on any phone in China.


RE: WiFi
By stans on 8/30/2009 3:49:33 AM , Rating: 2
The phones need to use the WAPI standard, chinese version of wifi. they can have wifi if they support that standard as well.


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s korea?
By poohbear on 8/31/2009 11:27:28 AM , Rating: 2
man when the hell is it arriving in S korea??? its one of the richest asian nations and yet no iphone.:(




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