China Unicom takes a bite of Apple pie

Chang Xiaobing, China Unicom Chairman and Chief Executive Officer speaks during a news conference in Hong Kong, announcing the company’s interim results and the launch of its 3G service with the iPhone.

Now you can have your iPhone and use it too, albeit without, don’t let this break your heart, the Wi-Fi facility. Use it too because - as British telecom consulting firm OVUM says - there are already about 1 million iPhones in China without an official network.
The iPhone had been coming ever since China Unicom launched the country’s first 3G service earlier this year. China’s second largest telecom operator ended months of speculation on Friday, saying it had signed a three-year contract with Apple Inc to sell iPhones in the country from later this year.
The deal that gives the world’s largest mobile phone market (with more than 680 million users) arguably the smartest cell phone is expected to help China Unicom draw away some “elite” users from rival China Mobile.
But Wang Yuquan, senior Frost & Sullivan consultant, disagreed. He said iPhones might not pose a threat to China Mobile because lack of Wi-Fi facility would keep many buyers away from them.
The deal, however, doesn’t involve revenue sharing with Apple, China Unicom said, denying earlier reports that it had agreed to buy 5 million handsets from the American company for 10 billion yuan ($1.5 billion).
Apple had been in talks with China Mobile since 2007 to introduce iPhones in China. But it turned to China Unicom because its WCDMA 3G standard is more suited to Apple’s iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS, the latest model.
Zhou, who spends more than 1,000 yuan a month on long distance calls to her business partners, said iPhones are too fashionable to use in a business environment.
Wang Guoping, an analyst from China Galaxy Securities said that the launch of the iPhone is good news for China Unicom but it’s too early to say whether it would help increase the number of its users and revenue. In China, most of the elite users are from the field of business but they don’t seem that interested in iPhones, but iPhones will definitely attract many young users to China Unicom’s 3G service.

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