5 Million iPhones Heading to China Unicom?


China Unicom, the second largest mobile carrier in the world's largest mobile market, has reportedly bought 5 million iPhones from Apple as it makes ready to launch the device in September.

These won't be the same iPhones sold in the rest of the world, however, as they'll be using China-specific WCDMA radios, and will also lack Wi-Fi. Aiya. That, of course, leaves the door open for gray market iPhones -- a staple in the nation since the original iPhone 2G launch in 2007 -- to linger around and compete with the official, crippled version. (Insert Verizon joke here if you must).

Also changing according to the report is Apple's share of the money. While they typically get 20-30% of profits, they'll be making do with 1000-1100 Yuan per unit under terms of this deal (which allegedly may run as long as 3 years).

Either way, and long-in-the-making though it may be, it's a huge deal for Apple and the iPhone in a huge market. Guess we'll see what this does for Gartner's numbers next year...

(International Business Times via Apple Insider)

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Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

5 Million iPhones Heading to China Unicom?


WOW....The government runs it all, why have an Iphone minus 3G and wifi? I am glad to be in America when I see/read things like this

I'd be surprised if Apple were even considering playing ball with an oppressive Communist government. That seems like it goes against all of Apple's core philosophies. Then again, I never thought Apple would become as opaque and unfriendly toward developers as they have with the App Store.

@Ty Kapp
Don't worry man. The US government is taking control of more businesses everyday. Sooner or later, they are going to get into the wireless phone biz. :-)

While they typically get 20-30% of profits, they’ll be making do with 1000-1100 Yuan per unit

Why switch terms of reference in mid sentence?

So with all these legal iPhones (not the sci-phone, i68, CECT clones, etc.) pouring into China, we should be seeing a huge output of unlocked iPhones pouring... back out of China!