Update – 03/27/09: China Unicom executive mgmt in Beijing have now “explained things” to the Shanghai subsidiary. The flashy iPhone images and special page used to promote 3G services are now no where to be found on the Shanghai Unicom website. This is no surprise as the over eager Shanghai subsidiary was a mite early in their promotion. Read more > HERE
iPhonAsia comment: Remember that old kids game called Telephone? You whisper something into someone’s ear and they whisper the same story (you hope) to someone else who in turn whispers it to another … finally the last person states aloud what they believe to be the message. 9 out to 10 times the original message has been badly garbled … sometimes comically so … Well that’s just what happened in Shanghai on Tuesday. The original message got “Shanghaied” and false reports of a “done” iPhone deal spread rapidly across the newswires and blogosphere.
Here is iPhonAsia’s post today on TMO Apple Finance Board …
The reports of a “done deal” are a bit premature
Sina.com and other Chinese sites are now quoting a China Unicom official who states that while significant progress has been made, an agreement between Apple and China Unicom to release iPhone in China has yet to be formally concluded. Sina.com states that yesterday’s press reports of a “finalized deal” contain factual errors.
What’s really going on? China Unicom’s Shanghai subsidiary was a bit over eager and splashed iPhone (and other smartphones with whom no deal has been made) all over their website to promote their forthcoming WCDMA 3G network launch.
China Unicom’s Shanghai subsidiary is having a hard time keeping the probable “iPhone deal” a secret and they’re essentially teasing what will “soon be” through their regional website. Chinese reporters got curious and contacted Shanghai Unicom for official comment. A Shanghai Unicom spokesperson (Yi Difei) talked about the forthcoming May 17 WCDMA 3G network launch date (trial launch in 55 cities) and expressed “optimism” over an iPhone deal. Then Chinese reporters interviewed several telecom analysts who made very presumptive statements about a “done deal” and the May 17 network launch. These analysts, however, were not affiliated with China Unicom. News service reports were then miss-read by other news services … sort of like a game of telephone. And then next thing you know we have reports of an official iPhone deal and a May 17 launch date.
End result is that Apple is more than a bit miffed and now China Unicom HQ in Beijing is doing damage control.
All that said … my view is that the deal will be finalized in a matter of weeks, after:
1. Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) approval
2. Senior Apple execs go to Beijing to reciprocate the China Unicom visit to Cupertino
The deal will most likely be formally announced on May 17 for launch later in the Summer. Note: To paraphrase the late great Yogi Berra; “A deal is never done, until it’s done.” So it’s only prudent to add a question mark until we get the official press release.