China Unicom announced a three-year deal with Apple to sell the company’s iPhone handset in China, the Wall Street Journal reported. Sales will start in the fourth quarter of 2009. China Unicom will not share a portion of its revenue with Apple and will purchase the phones wholesale from the US company. iPhones will be sold to consumers in China at a subsidy but China Unicom executives did not elaborate on how much the subsidy would be. The handsets will also not have wireless internet (WiFi) capabilities. Pricing wil be an issue as imported iPhones sell on the grey market in China for as low as US$680 and those handsets come with WiFi capabilities. China Unicom is hoping the deal will give it an edge over the leading mobile services carrier, China Mobile, which has a subscriber base three times the size of Unicom’s. The company will also be rolling out its third generation (3G) mobile service at the end of September. China’s Unicom’s 3G network is currently the only network in China compatible with the iPhone.
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