China Unicom to Support Black Market iPhones?
This week China Unicom starts selling the Apple iPhone legitimately in China. The new phones - reportedly priced at an astronomical ¥5,000 (about USD $700) each - will join an estimated 2 million black market iPhones in the People's Republic. According to reports
, a China Unicom subsidiary has agreed to give service to all the black-market iPhone users, too.
China Unicom is the smaller competitor to dominant China Mobile, which developed the Ophone mobile phone operating system that can support its homegrown TD-SCDMA 3G standard. China Mobile still claims Ophone devices will come out this year, but no release dates have yet been set. So China Unicom has a potentially narrow window to gain market share on China Mobile, which recently surpassed 500 million users.
The black-market price of unlocked iPhones in China is generally around ¥3,000 (about $400), with Chinese copycats available for as little as ¥1,000. Since urban workers in China make about ¥30,000 a year on average, with workers in the big eastern cities being closer to ¥35,000, the price will keep the legit China Unicom iPhone out of reach for most, even with subsidies of about $100 each.
China Unicom may sell as many as 3 million iPhones in China in the coming year, according to market research firm Piper Jaffray.
image via Sina.com