Apple signs three year iPhone deal with China Unicom

in iPhone edited January 2014
China Unicom has signed a three year agreement with Apple to become the exclusive provider of the iPhone in China, according to a report citing the company's chief executive and a representative from Apple.

At a news briefing covered by the Wall Street Journal, China Unicom's Chairman and CEO, Chang Xiaobing, stated that the company would begin selling two iPhone models by year's end. Pricing hasn't yet been revealed, but the deal reportedly does not involve revenue sharing with Apple but does involve a subsidy to make the phone more affordable to users.

China's official version of the phone will lack WiFi due to Chinese regulations, but will use the same WCDMA 3G mobile network technology as Apple's existing iPhone models. China Unicom's network currently covers 285 cities with its new 3G network and has plans to reach 335 by the end of this year. The company hopes to grab a third of China's 3G market share by next year, using the iPhone as a 3G voice and data growth engine.

China Unicom is the country's second largest provider with 141 million subscribers, but caters to a more urban and affluent customer base than first-place China Mobile, which serves a massive 498 million people but uses a homegrown Chinese mobile network and primarily sells cheap and simple phones.

China Telecom, the third largest provider with 42 million subscribers, is in talks to bring RIM BlackBerry and Palm Pre phones to the country.

Beware of a Japanese flop?

The online version of the story posted by the Journal for mobile users originally warned that "the iPhone hasn't sold as well in some marks as in the US. In Japan, for example, the Apple brand isn't as strong, and regular mobile phones offer many of the same features."

Related reports on the Chinese iPhone deal published by the Journal also included the unsubstantiated claim that the iPhone was not selling well in Japan, but those lines were missing from the standard web edition of the story. The 32GB iPhone 3GS debuted as Japan's best selling phone this summer, with the 16GB version also placing within the top ten phones sold there.

In 2007, the Journal reported that the iPhone had flopped in Japan based on estimated sales figures published by a marketing firm.

That report also suggested that the Japanese market held the Apple brand, and the iPhone in particular, in little regard. In contrast, actual surveys of influential buyers have indicated that Apple and the iPhone are wildly popular brands in Japan. The idea that Japan "hated the iPhone" was also repeated in a <

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