Update – March 8, 2009: Interfax’s Cindy Geng is reporting that a China Unicom delegation is visiting Apple and will conduct “decisive negotiations” on March 8 (that would be now). Cindy Geng’s report is based on an internal telecom source. The source is “confident that the talks will be successful.”
iPhonAsia has picked up from several sources in China that a March ’09 Apple/China Unicom summit would take place, however, this is the first report of a specific date. The CNFOL.com article below spells out more details on possible negotiation points (many may have already been resolved).
One other notable item from the Interfax report – “China Unicom is now preparing to obtain the network access license for the iPhone from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT). The MIIT refuses to test Wi-Fi capable handsets, consequently China Unicom has prepared versions of the iPhone both with and without Wi-Fi.”
Meanwhile … China Mobile continues in “cooperation talks” with Apple over releasing the iPhone. China Mobile CEO Wang Jianzhou, March 5, 2008: “We hope the iPhone can be used in China Mobile’s network, and Apple has demonstrated its will.”
China Unicom to Meet with Apple over iPhone
Here are a few key takeaways from an extensive iPhone in China article posted today in a China tech blog Computer Reporter by Tao Yuanli.
NOTE: The excerpts below have been translated from Mandarin by iPhonAsia. Apologies for less than perfect translation. The full article is available HERE in Mandarin.
Ministry Information Industry Ministry (MII) Vice-minister Lou Qinjian confirmed that China Unicom is “engaged in clandestine iPhone in China negotiations with Apple.” Lou Qinjian would not disclose any details regarding the negotiations, however he did reveal that:
“The labor letter department is organizing the operator to relate the terminal [mobile handset] manufacturer positively, after the 3G service launches comprehensively [circa May/June ‘09], provides the critical mass to the society 3G terminal product.”
In early February 2009, China Unicom began W-CDMA 3G network and the iPhone compatibility tests in the Hebei Province. The tests used the HSDPA network, and the downloading speed surpassed 150KBs. The Hebei Province migration network company involved in testing has given the tests a “satisfaction” evaluation. Thus it can be seen, that iPhone carries on the 3G network’s test smoothly.
On September 16, 2008, China Unicom Chairman Chang Xiaobing indicated at the general meeting of shareholders that China Unicom will “pay attention to the commercial turning point which highly iPhone possibly brings, and hopes to begin a depth of cooperation with Apple”
It is also reported that Chang Xiaobing will go in person to Apple Headquarters in Cupertino to discuss cooperation matters. There are four (4) issues to resolve:
- The issue of a subsidy payment from China Unicom to Apple for each “on contract” iPhone.
- Whether Apple will agree to disable WiFi on iPhone in China. WiFi on mobile handsets does not conform to China’s WAPI standard of security
- Exclusivity. Whether China Unicom will have exclusive selling rights in PRC.
- Whether Apple will agree to pre-load iPhone with applications popular in China (e.g. Youku vs Youtube).
iPhonAsia comment: There have been several reports of a planned March 2009 (that would be now) visit to Cupertino by key China Unicom executives. Here’s who iPhonAsia expects might be on the guest list:
China Unicom Chairman Chang Xiaobing
- China Unicom Executive Director Mobile Communications Gang Li
- China Unicom Vice President, Li Zheng Mao (another iPhone fan)
- and Yu Yingtao, head of China Unicom’s handset management center and its procurement subsidiary Vsens.com.