Say hello to at least another 135 million new iPhanatics!
Looks like the deal is now official. China Unicom, the second biggest mobile operator in China, will carry and sell the iPhone in China this September:
China Unicom has more than 135 million subscribers. (By comparison, China Mobile has over 470 million.) The company has promised to sell between 1 million and 2 million units per year, with revenue of at least 5 billion yuan ($732 million) in the same period. Reuters reports that the deal gives China Unicom exclusive rights to sell the device for the next three years. According to MacDailyNews, the iTunes Store model will remain unchanged and operate as it does in most other countries, with the usual Apple approval process and 70/30 split.
China has had a healthy black market in the sale of imported iPhones for several years. According to The New York Times, by the end of 2007, Apple had reported sales of 3.7 million iPhones. But only 2.3 million were actually registered on the networks of Apple’s wireless partners in the U.S. and Europe. Many of the “missing” iPhones found their way to China, where they were sold for as much as 4,000 RMB.
Still lots of speculation on the lack of WiFi on the models that will be sold in China, driving up prices for second-hand 3G iPhones in Hong Kong but either way get ready for a real iExplosion in China.