Update: Sorry I missed this earlier … If the China Unicom source is to be believed, “The two companies (China Unicom & Apple) began discussions after Apple’s talks with China Mobile broke down in October 2008″ … then why did China Mobile CEO Wang Jianzhou say in Mid-November 2008 (at GSMA Mobile Asia Congress in Macau): “We have [non-]disclosure agreements with Apple, so I can’t disclose many details. All I can say is that China is still interested in [bringing the] iPhone into China Mobile markets.” … More > HERE
iPhonAsia comment: The story below should be filed under “rumor” with a capital “R” … but it is interesting nonetheless. Regardless of whether Apple and China Mobile failed to come to terms (perhaps a dispute over too much “demanded” customization for China Mobile and their value-added services?), iPhonAsia has always felt that China Unicom would be a prime candidate for iPhone. The combined China Unicom/Netcom has over 150 million subscribers and they are anxious to make a serious dent in China Mobile’s 400+ million subscribers. It is interesting to note that over 290 million of China Mobile’s subscribers are pre-paid (no contract) and hence free to move to another carrier. China Unicom has been granted a license for W-CDMA 3G and the current “standard model” iPhone 3G already supports W-CMDA 3G. The rumored Nano iPhone may or may not be 3G.
More on the ongoing Nano iPhone rumors > HERE
See also > HERE
And > HERE
Fri 16 Jan 2009 18:42
Beijing. January 16. INTERFAX-CHINA – China Unicom has held several discussions with Apple Inc. over the launch of the iPhone in China, but many obstacles still stand in the way of any deal, a source at China Unicom told Interfax on Jan. 16.
The two companies began discussions after Apple’s talks with China Mobile broke down in October 2008, according to an employee in China Unicom’s marketing department, who asked to remain anonymous. However, the discussions have not progressed beyond the preliminary stages because of regulatory obstacles and different business philosophies.
The iPhone’s uses integrated Wi-Fi to access the mobile Internet, but the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) has so far refused to test or issue network access licenses for any Wi-Fi capable handset, the source said.
“If MIIT doesn’t change its stance on Wi-Fi, the iPhone won’t be able to enter the Chinese market unless Apple disables this function. Under this circumstance, it’s too early to sign an agreement,” the source said.
The two parties also disagree over the iPhone’s pre-installed Internet applications. China Unicom wants these applications replaced with applications that Chinese users prefer, the source said. For example, the iPhone comes with a Youtube application, but most Chinese users use Youku to share and watch videos.
China Unicom also wants a marketplace for users to download and buy applications and other value-added services that are more suited to Chinese users before the iPhone is launched, the source said. He did acknowledge that such a marketplace would take a long time to develop.
On Jan. 16, Ccidcom.com reported that the two companies were preparing to sign an agreement for China Unicom to start selling the iPhone Nano, a product that Apple has not even acknowledged it is developing, as of June. The report also said that China Unicom aims to sell 1 million units in 2009.
The source denied the report as “rumor”.