updated 02:55 pm EDT, Mon March 30, 2009
China Unicom deal delay?
A deal between Apple and China Unicom is unlikely to take place in the near future, says Wedge Partners. The research firm notes that while Unicom is now often seen as close to becoming the official Chinese iPhone carrier, a variety of factors suggest that a deal could be delayed for months more. Central among these is a new list of phones to be authorized for the company's 3G network, which include a number of other major manufacturers, but not Apple.
Unicom's 3G network will go live in May, and is slated to support six Samsung phones, two LG phones, one from Motorola, six from ZTE, seven from Huawei, two by Haier, three from Nokia, four from Sony Ericsson and two by Sharp. Other obstacles to iPhone adoption are said to be Apple resistance to disabling Wi-Fi -- as required by law on Chinese cellphones -- and Unicom's demand to install its own software, including even an iTunes clone.
Progress is alleged to have been made though, as Unicom is said to agree to price subsidies, along with revenue sharing on some "value-added" services. If a deal is completed, Unicom would also agree to buy a base number of iPhones; Wedge argues that it may take anywhere between six and eight months to clear the remaining disputes, however.