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Sales of the official iPhone in China are far from robust

When the deal with Apple and China Unicom first came to light, many expected big things from the two companies launching the iPhone officially in one of the biggest mobile phone markets in the world. The catch was that the iPhone was already available in China through the grey market.

The grey market iPhones had been in China for about a year when the deal was confirmed for Q4 and offered more features, namely WiFi, than the official iPhone for China that China Unicom was offering. AppleInsider reports that the reception for the official iPhone in China was very subdued. Attendance at iPhone launch parties was good, but sales did not reflect strong demand for the device in China.

According to a report, "At the Apple store in Beijing, the company's only location in China, the crowd seemed less enthusiastic. Employees cheered anyone who came in with chants of 'iPhone! iPhone!' But there were no lines for the stacks of new iPhones."

The iPhone debuted in China officially at 6,999 yuan, equivalent to $1,024 here in America for the iPhone 3GS with no service contract and minus WiFi. WiFi was left out of the official iPhone because the Chinese government had banned the feature in favor of a competing Chinese standard. China Unicom reportedly hopes to have WiFi in its official iPhone next year.

AppleInsider reports in a follow-up that the sales numbers for the iPhone were a mere 5,000 units compared to 1 million users that have signed up to use the company's new 3G network with other devices. The wireless carrier still expects that the iPhone will add to its Q4 profits. Grey market iPhones in Hong Kong sell for about $800 and include WiFi. The deal between Apple and China Unicom reportedly had a minimum order threshold with at least one to two million iPhones ordered per year.





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