China Unicom Might Sling the iPhone
China Mobile and Apple talks concerning the iPhone recently broke down
after China Mobile wanted to control the sales of apps on the phones it sold instead of Apple in control like they currently are with the App Store.
Their loss. Now China Unicom (125 million subscribers) has picked up where China Mobile (415 million subscribers) left off in negotiations with Apple. According to a Reuters
report China Unicom Chairman Chang Xiaobing said "We are in talks with many handset suppliers, including Apple..."
If the iPhone is to be sold by China Unicom analysts believe that it will be highly subsidized. Jimmy Cheong and Tim Storey of JP Morgan say that "iPhone is likely to be highly subsidised and China Unicom may give away large revenue share so earnings upside is possibly limited, in our view. We think this is a reason why China Mobile has refused to sign with Apple to date"
because "iPhone copies (i.e. the Hi-Phone) are available without (users) having to sign long-term contracts."
Will talks make it all the way through and turn into iPhone sales by China Unicom? It is anyone's guess but here at MMi we have seen a trend over the last couple of years: iPhone = Carrier success (at least in the terms of revenue and subscribers not network availability . . . but that's another topic all together . . .)