iPhonAsia Comment: On March 8 iPhonAsia reported on a rumored Apple/China Unicom summit that began the week of March 9. Details > HERE. This meeting has now been confirmed by a China telecommunications industry insider. As reported in the
article below and through several China news services, a China Unicom executive contingency, led by Executive Director of Mobile Communications Gang Li, and Yu Yingtao, head of China Unicom’s handset management center and its procurement subsidiary Vsens.com, arrived in San Jose on March 8th. The objective of this summit was to take iPhone negotiations to a serious level. As outlined in a March 8 iPhonAsia post, the negotiation points likely included (some may have been resolved before March 8):
- 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).
A report via ccw.com.cn (< details in Mandarin 传联通就引入iPhone达成协议) indicates that the China Unicom delegation remained in discussions for a full two weeks. We hope they had time over the weekend to do a little sightseeing, particularly with San Francisco, Monterey, Carmel and Pebble Beach so close by. The China Unicom team did not return to Beijing until March 18. It is therefore quite possible that the China Unicom team remained in town for the Apple 3.0 presentation delivered on St Patricks Day (March 17). This event was held in the Town Hall meeting room at Apple’s Cupertino HQ. Conveniently, there is a conference room upstairs where an executive group might comfortably watch the presentations via closed circuit TV. This discretion might be necessary as the Press was on hand for the 3.0 event and a group of well dressed Chinese gentlemen might cause a few members of the media to make the connection.
The report below, via China Tech News, suggests that an iPhone launch will not happen on May 17 (W-CDMA 3G trial launch day in 55 major cities) but only after more testing. iPhonAsia has previously suggested that May 17 could be a target day for an iPhone in China announcement, with a scheduled launch later in the Summer. We will hold to that prediction.
3.20.09 via China Tech News – In response to media reports this week which stated China Unicom has signed an agreement with Apple to introduce Apple’s iPhone into China, a spokesperson from China Unicom says “no comment at the current stage”.
However, according to a China Unicom insider quoted by local media, the two companies’ negotiation about the introduction of iPhone has gained much progress, though the details are not available.
A delegation led by China Unicom’s vice president for mobile communications marketing, Li Gang, went to Apple’s U.S. headquarters for a negotiation on March 8 and the delegation returned to Beijing on March 18.
The insider says the two sides have gained major progress in the negotiation, but they have not reached any agreement. There is one thing for sure: the iPhone handsets will not be launched in China on May 17 when China Unicom is due to launch its first batch of WCDMA mobile phone numbers, because even if the two companies decide to introduce the iPhone into China, the companies still need time to purchase the iPhone handsets and test the compatibility between the handsets and the WCDMA network of China Unicom.