In a report this morning, JLM Pacific Epoch is sourcing an “insider” who reveals that China Unicom has begun testing an iPhone model in the provinces of Henan and Heibei. iPhonAsia has observed a major ramp up of job postings in China, including an RF Test Engineer to be located in Beijing. This suggests iPhone tests on a domestic network. More > HERE
JLH Pacific Epoch also reiterates earlier reports of high level Apple and China Unicom negotiations; “A telecom executive said on February 5 that Unicom has set up a team led by Chairman Chang Xiaobing to negotiate the iPhone‘s China entry, and the iPhone may be released when Unicom begins commercial 3G network operation on May 17.”
As regular iPhonAsia readers know, there was also a recent report stating that China Unicom would be visiting Apple in Cupertino in March to finalize negotiations and map out a distribution plan. This report also suggested that although the negotiations were at a serious stage, they were by no means finalized. A prior Interfax report, also quoting an “insider,” suggested that there was some debate over the current menu of services pre-loaded on iPhone. China Unicom wants more services that would appeal to Chinese wireless users. The insider gave the example of Youku video services (popular in China) versus Youtube.
China Unicom, like China Mobile, has ambitions to expand their own value added services platform. Yet China Unicom has stopped short of announcing plans for their own “me too” app store.
iPhonAsia believes that Apple has already been hard at work on developing preloaded services with key China partners. In previous posts we have hinted about the possible addition of Youku’s video services and Tencent QQ messaging. This is a somewhat moot discussion point as the Apple app store will no doubt provide panoply of “developed for China” services that can be “post loaded” on to iPhone.