updated 05:00 pm EDT, Mon October 26, 2009
May legitimize many Chinese devices
Some users of gray-market iPhones will soon be eligible for an amnesty in China, writes the China Business Times. Official products for the region are set to go on sale later this week, after an unusually long negotiation period with Apple. Prices will be considerably higher than many Chinese are able to afford however, which could lead a number to choose unlocked import phones, which are also frequently less expensive.
Shanghai Unicom -- a subsidiary of China Unicom -- has consequentially announced plans to allow those with gray-market iPhones to sign up for officially-supported service. Customers will thus be able to take advantage of all iPhone cellular features, some of which would otherwise be blocked on unauthorized SIM cards. The strategy is unusual, as unlocked iPhones are typically only supported in regions with multiple official carriers.
Over 1.5 million iPhones are thought to already be in use in China. Shanghai Unicom also faces the obstacle of numerous imitation iPhones, which often omit key functions but are nevertheless cheaper and stylistically similar. The amnesty should eventually extend to all China Unicom customers.