July 13, 2009 HONG KONG (Dow Jones) – China Unicom Ltd. (CHU) is near to reaching an agreement on offering Apple Inc.’s (AAPL) iPhone in China, sina.com reported Monday citing an unnamed China Unicom source.
China Unicom Source: Apple iPhone deal soon
July 13, 2009 by Dan Butterfield
JMHO … but the serious negotiating was done in March/April. A team from China Unicom spent two solid weeks in Cupertino and I believe they were on hand for the 3.0 Event in mid March (albeit Unicom team was sequestered upstairs so that press would not ask questions). In April it was rumored that an Apple exec management reciprocated by visiting China Unicom in Beijing. It’s my opinion that major negotiation points were settled soon thereafter. The rest of the time (March through the present day) has been spent awaiting China Unicom’s WCDMA 3G network launch and getting through China MIIT’s iPhone test/licensure process. Which may still be under way for all I know.
If the iPhone to China deal was largely settled in the Spring, why all of the rumors/leaks over breakdowns in talks? China Unicom was held up to some ridicule in China for the Shanghai Unicom website faux pas and for letting it slip that they had a deal with Apple. Many high ranking players in China’s telecom industry spun the rumored “deal done” news in a way that China Unicom must have made many (too many) concessions to Apple. This stung China Unicom a bit and there was some loss of face. China Unicom quickly backtracked and made it appear that there were still serious issues to resolve. Since Apple would not allow the announcement of a deal until all licenses have been issued (and for good reason), this gave China Unicom a few months to spin the story such that they were still in negotiations.
I believe we are not far away from a formal announcement but until/unless a network access license is issued, Apple will insist that China Unicom keep the lid on tight.