Update: July 28, 2009 - China Unicom has denied that a deal has been finalized and Apple, per standard modus operandi, declined to comment.
According to China Unicom spokesperson Sophia Tso: “Discussions are still ongoing, we have not reached any formal agreement.” A second China Unicom spokesperson suggested that a deal timeframe exists but talks continue:
“Both sides have their own timeframe for an agreement but essentially it depends on the practical progress of the negotiations.”
July 27, 2009 – File this under rumor … China website Tech.QQ has posted a story today about China Unicom’s plans to bring iPhone to China. The report quotes anonymous “informed sources” who claim that Apple and China Unicom have finalized their deal to officially launch iPhone in China. The report does not mention when China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) might grant Apple’s iPhone the required Network Access License (NAL). However, the Tech.QQ source states that iPhone will be launched by the end of September 2009.
Key takeaways from the Tech.QQ report:
- The Apple and China Unicom deal will be a 3-year exclusive.*
- The iPhone will be customized for the China market (e.g. Chinese language and preloaded with “for China” apps).
- China Unicom will pay Apple 3,000 CNY ($439 USD) per unit.
- China Unicom will subsidize iPhone by pricing the iPhone below the 3,000 CNY paid to Apple. This would take the official iPhone price below the grey-market price for smuggled iPhones.
- China Unicom has promised to sell a minimum 1 million units per year with significantly higher sales targets.
- The iPhone for China will make use of Apple’s China App Store.
* There is no mention of the terms of exclusivity, such as whether this will be for all iPhones or 3G models only? (leaving the door open for an unlocked 2G model in 2010/11 for all carriers).
Thanks to Kane Gao for the heads up.