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iPhone goes on sale in China

updated 10:10 am EDT, Fri October 30, 2009

Event marks culmination of long negotiations

Apple has officially launched the iPhone in China to relatively warm response, at least in Beijing, reports say. The device became available at 6:30PM local time on Friday, first through a China Unicom flagship store after a ceremony attended by Apple VP Greg Joswiak. Although there were no overnight lines as at some launches, just under 300 people are said to waited in front of the store for a chance to buy the product.

Less fanfare is said to have accompanied the launch at Apple's Sanlitun-area retail store, though the company did run video on a large outdoor screen, and project images along a store wall. Cold weather is said to have prompted many people to buy hot drinks and blankets as they waited for sales to begin. When asked why they chose the Apple Store instead of a Unicom outlet, customers said they hoped for better service.

Actual unit sales are expected to be relatively modest in China, not only due to the low incomes of many people but unusually high prices, which can run as much as 6,999 yuan ($1,025) for a contract-free 32GB iPhone 3GS. There are also over 1.5 million gray-market iPhones in the country, which unlike official ones are cheaper and have the benefit of a Wi-Fi receiver. Unicom has responded by offering an amnesty program, which is already said to have attracted over a million iPhone 3G subscribers.

Apple has been working on bringing the iPhone to China for over a year, but has been stymied by numerous obstacles. Chinese law forced the removal of Wi-Fi, and local carriers are said to have objected to Apple demands for things like revenue sharing or a block on carrier-controlled app stores. Because of the size of the Chinese market however, Apple is believed to have been forced to offer at least mild concessions.








by MacNN Staff

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Comments

  1. iphonerulez

    Joined: Dec 1969

    -2

    Could the China Unicom be

    so mistaken to ask for the iPhone and yet not possibly be able to sell it. I'm sure they know it's expensive for potential customers, but if it was that much of a risk that no one would buy them, then why bother to sell iPhones at all. They must have done some sort of research before taking such a risk. I'm concerned that China Unicom won't be able to move the high-end iPhones, but they can always eventually reduce the prices to boost sales.

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    Article

    Unicom has responded by offering an amnesty program, which is already said to have attracted over a million iPhone 3G subscribers.

    I seriously doubt 2/3 of the gray-market public has signed up for the amnesty program (and, seriously, people in China are going to trust an amnesty program?). And how long before they have to have their phone's wi-fi disabled by gov't mandate due to them not being able to track internet users completely enough?

    Chinese law forced the removal of Wi-Fi,

    Actually, I just thought it was the gov't. I didn't realize there was a law that said you couldn't have wi-fi in them.

    and local carriers are said to have objected to Apple demands for things like revenue sharing or a block on carrier-controlled app stores.

    The revenue sharing argument was gone over a year ago. Apple hasn't demanded that since the 3G went out, and they changed their model to the more accepted standard of up-front subsidies, rather than revenue sharing at the back-end. (Although they probably did it the other way the first year because they knew they could find enough people to spend $600 on the phone, but still wanted a piece of the subsidy pie).

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    Re: Could the...

    I'm concerned that China Unicom won't be able to move the high-end iPhones, but they can always eventually reduce the prices to boost sales.

    Why are you concerned? Are you a china unicom shareholder or something?

    As in any country, it is not the carriers job to sell the iPhone. Apple is responsible to drive sales, as they are also the ones who set pricing (you think Apple leaves it to the carrier to set the price?) If it does not sell well, it will Apple's issue of not doing the market research. As for risk, what risk is there to CU, unless they specifically promised Apple so much revenue.

  1. psdenno

    Joined: Dec 1969

    +2

    300 Wait in Line....

    Well, that's 300 down and a billion and a half to go.

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