Apple and Unicom, one of three Chinese state-owned telecommunications carriers, started selling the iPhone in China in October. Government regulations forced Apple and Unicom to disable Wi-Fi capability, which, along with relatively high prices, made the phone less attractive to many Chinese consumers than fully functional iPhones brought in for resale from other markets.
The Chinese regulation required that handset makers that wanted to include wireless internet in their products use a Chinese homegrown standard called WAPI. Which meant redesigning the iPhone, which normally uses the Wi-Fi standard.
Chang Xiaobing’s comments indicate there is now a way for a new model with Wi-Fi capability. Mr. Chang, who was speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the annual session of the National People’s Congress, China’s legislature, didn’t give a specific timetable for the change.
But he said that if the new model is introduced the company will consider compensating current users who lack Wi-Fi, perhaps by allowing greater use of Unicom’s high-speed third-generation wireless network.
Wall Street Journal said Apple didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Not including discounts on service, Apple and Unicom charge $730 to $1,020 for the iPhone, making it more expensive than "gray market" iPhones brought into the country through places such as Hong Kong. Chang Xiaobing said Unicom will lower iPhone prices if conditions permit.