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China’s Oriental Morning Post is jumping into the iPhone rumor mill. In a report today the Post reveals that China Unicom is in the midst of intense iPhone promotion/distribution planning. The Post reports that the new iPhone model for China will retail for 2,000 CNY ($293 USD) for subscribers who choose a data-plan + multi-year contract. This subsidized price would be 1,000 CNY below the reported (yesterday’s unverified rumor) 3,000 CNY ($440 USD) that China Unicom will pay to Apple for each unit. The Post notes that there will be other plan options that further reduce iPhone’s retail price. The Post sites “Shanghai Unicom*insiders” who provided information on condition of anonymity.

China telecom industry analyst, Kim Yun-Hung Chen was also interviewed for the Post report. Kim Yun-Hung Chen states that China Unicom’s 3G network rollout is progressing ahead of schedule and suggests that iPhone may be ready for launch in August. The Unicom insiders noted that despite readiness in August, the launch timing would be determined by “central headquarters.”*

* Shangahi Unicom is a subsidiary of China Unicom – HQ in Beijing

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Update: July 28, 2009 – China Unicom has denied that a deal has been finalized and Apple, per standard modus operandi, declined to comment.

According to China Unicom spokesperson Sophia Tso: “Discussions are still ongoing, we have not reached any formal agreement.” A second China Unicom spokesperson suggested that a deal timeframe exists but talks continue:

“Both sides have their own timeframe for an agreement but essentially it depends on the practical progress of the negotiations.”

July 27, 2009 – File this under rumor … China website Tech.QQ has posted a story today about China Unicom’s plans to bring iPhone to China. The report quotes anonymous “informed sources” who claim that Apple and China Unicom have finalized their deal to officially launch iPhone in China. The report does not mention when China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) might grant Apple’s iPhone the required Network Access License (NAL). However, the Tech.QQ source states that iPhone will be launched by the end of September 2009.

Key takeaways from the Tech.QQ report:

  • iphone-china-unicom-111-150x150The Apple and China Unicom deal will be a 3-year exclusive.*
  • The iPhone will be customized for the China market (e.g. Chinese language and preloaded with “for China” apps).
  • China Unicom will pay Apple 3,000 CNY ($439 USD) per unit.
  • China Unicom will subsidize iPhone by pricing the iPhone below the 3,000 CNY paid to Apple. This would take the official iPhone price below the grey-market price for smuggled iPhones.
  • China Unicom has promised to sell a minimum 1 million units per year with significantly higher sales targets.
  • Picture 3The iPhone for China will make use of Apple’s China App Store.

There is no mention of the terms of exclusivity, such as whether this will be for all iPhones or 3G models only? (leaving the door open for an unlocked 2G model in 2010/11 for all carriers).

Thanks to Kane Gao for the heads up.

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route-apps-20090608gene_munster_01Piper Jaffray Analyst Gene Munster appeared on CNBC’s Fast Money program today (July 7). See video below. Discussion of Apple (AAPL) begins about halfway through the video. According to Piper Jaffray’s channel checks iPhones and Macs are selling well and should have a favorable impact on Apple’s (AAPL) earnings. As Munster puts it: “There’s no question that now is a good time to own Apple (AAPL) … June is going to be good, but September and December are going to be huge for these guys (Apple) … iPhone apps are like a boa constrictor, these apps on the iPhone are slowly squeezing the life out of the competition … This is going to be a strong back-half of the year for Apple (AAPL).”

macbook-promo-image20090608Munster suggested that Apple’s recent decision to cut Macbook prices was a smart business move. He noted that inventories are low and believes that Apple sold at least 2.2 million Macbooks during the third quarter. According to Munster: “We track product lead-times and our records show that Apple has never had a 7-10 day delay on its most popular 13″ model, with the most recent significant delay being 5-7 days over 2 years ago in 9/08.” …”We see this as a sign that demand is outpacing the company’s build expectations, and it may take several weeks to reach a supply demand equilibrium.” Vodpod videos no longer available.

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Media, Street traders and litigators feign outrage over Apple’s failure to Tweet daily on Steve Jobs’ health

It was revealed on Friday that Steve Jobs had a liver transplant back in March. After a several months of recuperation, Steve Jobs will soon return to work at Apple. Story over, move on! Steve is … and so are Apple (AAPL) shareholders.

sjobsAlas, no … the sanctimonious financial media, once again, trotted out their legal beagles to weigh in on “ethics” and “disclosure responsibility” of Apple Inc. surrounding Steve Jobs’ health status. Never mind that Apple went to great lengths in January to explain that new tests revealed that Steve Jobs’ hormonal imbalance (causing his weight loss) was more complex than first thought … and that based on this new medical information, Steve would need to take a 6-month leave of absence. Okay … we all know about Steve’s past Whipple procedure and islet cell neuroendocrine tumor treatment. Given the new revelations in January, and Steve’s need to take a leave, AAPL shareholders understood that Jobs’ condition was not trivial. Clear message sent. AAPL shareholders understood that this was a serious situation that needed Steve’s focus and full attention from his medical team.

Apple COO, Tim Cook

Apple COO, Tim Cook

As an Apple (APPL) shareholder, I can say “we get it,” and we respect Steve’s right to privacy during this leave of absence. The only ones freaking out are the pretenders. Serious AAPL investors are very comfortable with Tim Cook and the rest of Apple’s deep bench (Peter Oppenheimer, Jonny Ive, Phil Shiller, Ron Johnson, Scott Forstall, Bob Mansfield, Mark Papermaster, Dan Cooperman, Bernard Serlet, Sina Tamaddon, et. al.). Moreover, select members of Apple’s Board have been consulting with Steve’s doctors and closely monitoring Jobs’ health status. Finally, whether Steve Jobs moves to a less than full-time role (e.g. moving to Chairman with Cook as CEO) or not, Jobs’ DNA is deeply embedded in the company and Apple’s product menu is well defined for years to come.

To the “slimebucket” posers that continue to scream over inadequate disclosure (daily Tweets from Steve Jobs’ doctors would not be enough due to 140 character limit), I say you are not speaking for AAPL shareholders (certainly not this shareholder). You are, in fact, doing the dirty work for Wall Street’s “shoot first” traders, and “sue always” lawyers.

Here’s my favorite quote of the day courtesy of kylobbist over on AAPL Sanity

“So let me get this straight … The Masters of the Universe on Wall Street, along with the executives and boards of the major banks and investment firms basically were running a big ponzi scheme among themselves and screwed the markets, the economy and their customers, which required a massive and unprecedented infusion of taxpayer dollars to save their hides along the way … but we are supposed to be outraged at the “ethics” and “immorality” of whether and how Steve Jobs got a liver transplant??? … Yeah, whatever”

Video: Steve Jobs’ Stanford Commencement Address 2005 – Steve talks movingly about life’s journey


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Vodpod videos no longer available.

What are the tech pundits saying about iPhone 3GS?… Read their reviews (linked below):

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Palm Pre

photos-hardware-05-20090608Now that the Palm Pre has launched … it might be time to recall that Apple holds the patent rights for multi-touch gestures on touch-screen mobile handsets.

Other touch-screen handset manufacturers have been careful to avoid a direct mimicking of Apple’s trademarked touch-screen controls (e.g. two finger pinch-in, pinch-out, etc.). But Palm is taking an “in your face” stance on the rights to multi-touch via their new Pre smartphone.

Lefty the Chimp creating prior art

Lefty the Chimp creating prior art

Notwithstanding Apple’s patent (US Patent 7,479,949) and acquisition of FingerWorks‘ IP in 2005 … Palm’s lawyers are apparently betting big on “prior art” to undermine Apple’s rights and avoid legal rulings that would support Apple’s IP. And many are expecting Palm’s team of legal eagles to prepare examples of prior art along with depositions from the “creators” themselves. Palm’s team are even helping “Lefty the Chimp,” a brilliant multi-touch artist (photo – above right) to prepare his deposition, as he has trouble with written English.

Apple's da Vinci was inspired by "prior art" ... so says Palm

Apple's Mona Lisa was inspired by "prior art" (example above) ... so says Palm

I’m reminded by my pal Daugherty that Leonardo da Vinci too was a lefty.

Ya had to do it, didn’t you Palm? Traipse out your artistic chimp and pretend he’s the great da Vinci. Let me tell you something Palm … I knew Leonardo da Vinci … Leonardo was a friend of mine … and Palm, Lefty the Chimp is no Leonardo da Vinci!

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WWDC 2009  – Software only?

iphone301148179.binThe World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC – photos) Keynote address is scheduled for Monday, June 8. We will likely see and hear about Snow Leopard and iPhone 3.0 OS.  There is also a chance we will see a new iPhone at WWDC 09. However, it is very possible that WWDC will be focused on software NOT hardware. In reading the tea leaves (+ hints from Jim and Gene), iPhonAsia believes that the new iPhone(s) unveiling could be reserved for a special “yet to be announced” event. Apple has recently favored product unveilings at more singularly focused events. For example, the new iPhone 3.0 OS was first demoed in March at a special event at Apple’s Cupertino headquarters and last summer new iPods were unveiled at a special event staged at the Mascone Center in San Francisco (same venue for WWDC).

340xIf we don’t see or hear about a new iPhone(s) at WWDC ’09, don’t fret … take a deep breath and know that it’s (they’re) coming and soon! iPhonAsia believes that it is highly likely that new iPhones will be showcased within the next 30 days. We also believe that an iPhone in China announcement will be part of the new iPhone(s) unveiling. So if we don’t see new hardware on Monday, look for a “special event” invitation from Apple soon thereafter.

It may be just a coincidence, but Steve Jobs is slated to return to Apple HQ at the end on June. It might be fun to celebrate his return with new iPhone(s) unveilings and the long awaited “China deal” announcement. 

If any iPhonAsia readers are in San Francisco for WWDC and would like to meet up … ping me here > CONTACT    

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