China Unicom in talks with Apple for iPhone; May 17 target date?

“China Unicom, one of China’s big three telecoms carriers, has started negotiations with Apple Inc. over the launch of iPhone in China, China Business News reported Wednesday. ‘Yes, we are in talks with Apple Inc.,’ a manager told the newspaper,” Yan Pei reports for “However, whether China Unicom will be able to start selling iPhone on May 17, the day it opens its new WCDMA network, remains to be seen.”

“China Unicom’s negotiation team with Apple is headed by the company’s board chairman Chang Xiaobing, the newspaper said,” Pei reports. “If China Unicom pulls off the iPhone deal, it will be a huge boost for the company’s WCDMA business.”

Pei reports, “According to the source, China Unicom started talks with Apple as early as last October. However, the two parties couldn’t reach an agreement due to policy restrictions and business model differences.”

“For example, the iPhone features an integrated Wi-Fi function, which, according to regulations of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, is not allowed on cell phones. So the iPhone can only enter the Chinese market if Apple agrees to remove the Wi-Fi function or the Chinese government lifts its regulations,” Pei reports. “The two parties also disagree on the pre-installed software on the iPhone, such as iTunes App Stores, YouTube and so on.”

Pei reports, “Current iPhone users are at the high-end of the cell phone market, precisely the consumer group targeted by China Unicom. China Unicom would clearly benefit if it can manage to lure customers from China Mobile with the iPhone.”

Full article here.

[Attribution: Fortune. Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Martin” for the heads up.]

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