The iPhone 4 went on sale today in China, with large crowds gathering outside Apple Stores in Beijing and Shanghai
. The only authorized carrier in the country, China Unicom, said they received 200,000 pre-orders before sales began, and the phone apparently did brisk business at China Unicom retail outlets and Suning Appliance stores throughout the People's Republic. China Unicom requires a contract, though, and the carrier-unlocked phones available at the four Apple Stores in China are proving popular.
Most Chinese mobile phone customers pay month-to-month, rather than signing a contract. In addition, many just want to keep their existing phone number; the Chinese market does not aoffer portability. In an online survey by portal 163.com, over 70 percent of the more than 7,000 people surveyed said they would rather buy an iPhone 4 from Apple instead of China Unicom. With a two-year contract from China Unicom, the iPhone 4 will cost 5,880 yuan ($877) for the 16GB model, and 6,999 yuan ($1,044) for the 32GB model. Apple's price for unlocked iPhone 4s is 4,999 yuan ($744 US) for the 16GB model and 5,999 yuan ($893) for the 32GB model. According to China Daily
, the English-language newspaper published by the Communist Party of China, Apple's price is below the 5,500 yuan charged for gray market phones
brought in from Hong Kong. "We cut the price by 200 yuan this week," a vendor in Beijing's largest electronics market told the government newspaper, "but customers still think it is too high since they can buy an official one from an Apple store for 4,999 yuan."
Customer lined up for as long as two days waiting for their chance to buy an iPhone, with more than a thousand people waiting outside the new Apple Store at the Xidan Joy City shopping center in Beijing. "It's like waiting in line to see a movie star," Sun Jian Kuan, a 26-year-old systems engineer, told Computerworld
. "No phone can best the iPhone."
, image via Agence France Presse