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Chang Xiaobing, Chairman and CEO China Unicom Group - Oct 30, 2009 iPhone launch

Chang Xiaobing, Chairman and CEO China Unicom Group - Oct 30, 2009 iPhone launch

Updated – December 9, 2009: I just received an e-mail from the Managing Director of Marbridge Consulting confirming that the 100,000 iPhone sales number during the first 40 days (launch-to-date) is indeed correct. I would like to thank Marbridge Consulting for their prompt and courteous reply to my e-mail:

Dear Dan,

Thanks for your message. Regrettably, the translator who handled the lead-off summary in our newsbrief yesterday did omit a zero, a mistake that also did not get picked up by the section editor. The correct figure should be 100,000.  We have corrected the figure in the original summary and will also run a correction in today’s Features section to clear up any confusion.

Our translation and editing processes employ a series of checks to ensure that this sort of error is rare, but as the volume of material we cover each day is high, we do still experience the occasional typographical or related error. In such cases, we very much appreciate feedback like yours, so that we can catch and correct such items as quickly as possible.

For future reference, it’s probably worth noting that the source for each of our news summaries is included just under the title: in this case, the same Sohu IT article you referenced in your blog.

Confusion reigns. There are two conflicting reports out today focusing on iPhone sales in China after the first 40 days (launch-to-date). Marbridge Consulting claims that sales were 10,000. The second report on Sohu (reposted on many tech sites) states that China Unicom sold 100,000 iPhones in the first 40 days. Both reports point to China Unicom as the source of data. One of them is obviously wrong (missed a zero). Readers? Anyone know which source has the correct numbers? I’ve sent e-mails to Marbridge and China Unicom requesting clarification.

Here’s the essence of the story from Sohu using the 100,000 number:

iphone-china-unicom-111China Unicom Chairman and CEO, Chang Xiaobing was in Hong Kong yesterday, and sat down for an interview with the media. The subject of iPhone came up and Chang Xiaobing gave an upbeat account that countered previous press reports.

In the days immediately following the iPhone launch, opening weekend sales numbers were reported to be a paltry 5,000. Adding insult to this injury were reports of just five (5) iPhones sold through the newly opened Taobao.com store dedicated to the official iPhone. But China Unicom has held tight to sales numbers since the opening weekend and only yesterday did they provide an update. According to a report on Sohu.com100,000 iPhones have now been sold through China Unicom and its iPhone distribution partners.

Picture 4During the interview, Chang Xiaobing expressed optimism that iPhone would reach China Unicom’s long term sales targets; “iPhone will become China’s best-selling smartphone.” The Unicom Group Chairman also castigated members of the press who’ve misrepresented the price of the official iPhone. The majority of press accounts focus on the higher “contract free” price and fail to mention the subsidies that are available to those who opt to go on contact. Subscribers can choose from eight different monthly price/plans that lower the cost of the iPhone. The higher the monthly plan, the lower the price of the iPhone. There are also four premium plans (maximum calling minutes and data) that reduce the iPhone price to $0.00 (free).

When asked again about the rumors of China Unicom’s commitment to pre-purchase 5 million iPhones from Apple over a 3 year timeline, Chang Xiaobing declined to provide any deal specifics, but he did say; these reports are not entirely accurate.” Despite his reluctance to talk about contract terms, Chang Xiaobing did not back away from setting iPhone sales targets. He revealed that China Unicom may be reevaluating its iPhone marketing strategies and that China Unicom could break through the 5 million iPhone sales goal.

While the interview referenced above took place on December 8, 2009, Chang Xiaobing shared similar sentiments during a November 16, 2009 interview on Bloomberg TV Asia Pacific. iPhone sales were a key part of the interview > watch here

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