Following the recent news that iPhone sales are finally picking up for China Unicom, Apple’s partner for introducing and selling the iPhone in China, now comes word that China Unicom has another ambitious plan in the works: launching its very own App Store.

Although there have been rumblings about such plans without actual confirmation in recent weeks, 9to5Mac is reporting today that previous speculations will soon be proven correct.

A senior executive at a subsidiary of Apple’s current Chinese carrier confirmed these plans, saying that Shanghai Unicom is testing "Wan Jia Ying" (Player Camp) an online platform on which iPhone users can exchange information and share content.
Although some positive signs have emerged from the slight uptick in iPhone sales reported from China Unicom, it will be a long, long time before the iPhone becomes as universal in China as it is elsewhere in the world. In fact, such universality will likely not be achieved until the cost of the device is lowered and China allows Wi-Fi connectivity, something the Chinese Government doesn't permit under current regulations.

With so many strikes against the iPhone in China, why would China Unicom invest in its own App Store at this time? And will doing so really impact sales enough to drastically improve the iPhone's standing in the Chinese marketplace? It doesn't seem so. But it also doesn't seem like the perceived challenges will stop China Unicom from trying to make the iPhone user experience as unique to China as possible.

Testing of the service began in August, but the plan doesn’t include making this China Unicom’s primary application platform. It currently offers over 270 apps, including both free and paid versions. Reports in advance of the iPhone launch in China claimed one sticking point in putting distribution deals in place with carriers there was the desire of local incumbents to promote their own App Store, rather than ceding the market to Apple.
No word yet as to when the new App Store will launch or what it may ultimately look like or offer. For now, China Unicom is just happy to know that in excess of 100,000 iPhones have been sold in China so far. And it seems that purchase rate is adequate to inspire the aggressive push planned for a Chinese app store.

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