China Unicom Say iPhone Will Be Top Seller
China Unicom has great expectations for the iPhone despite lackluster sales, projecting that the device will represent 10 percent of all 3G phones in the People's Republic within two to three years. The chairman of China's second-largest wireless carrier also said that he expects the iPhone to be the top-selling smartphone in the burgeoning Chinese market.
In spite of intense interest in the initial offering of a legitimate iPhone after years of black-market devices trickling in from Hong Kong and abroad, China Unicom only gained 5,000 new subscriber since the device was released in October. However, the company is reportedly pleased with the sales and is claiming that the October launch of its world-standard WCDMA 3G network was also a success, with over a million new subscribers added each month.
Apple is also in talks with Unicom's competitor China Mobile, the world's largest wireless carrier with 475 million subscribers as compared with 141 million for China Unicom. China Mobile uses the TD-SCDMA standard backed by the Chinese government. Many Chinese owners of unlocked iPhones smuggled into the country use the devices on China Mobile's 2G network, which uses GSM and GPRS standards.
Adoption of the first legitimate iPhone in China has been hampered by the phone's high cost - $1024 for the top of the line model - and the lack of WiFi due to government restrictions. The feature was left out because the government's regulations temporarily banned Wi-Fi in favor of a rival native system. The ban was not relaxed until May, which was after manufacturing of the new iPhone began. China Unicom officials have said they hope to have a new iPhone equipped with Wi-Fi available by the end of the year.
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