Mobile phone operator, China Unicom, has signed a 3-year deal with Apple to bring the iPhone to China. The first iPhones will ship sometime in the fourth quarter this year according to TechCrunch. Both the iPhone and the iPhone 3GS will be launched in China this year. Interestingly, the iPhones being sold in China will not have WiFi functionality. This has been one bone of contention between Apple and Chinese carriers.
China Unicom has not announced their pricing for the iPhone or what their service plans will be, however, according to The Wall Street Journal, the Chinese carrier plans to keep the price down by offering subsidies to customers.
According to Yahoo News, the iPhone is likely to be priced from 2,999 yuan (439 dollars) with a requirement that the users also buy 3,000 yuan worth of pre-paid calls. Nothing is official as yet.
The only part of the deal which is not sorted out is how and whether revenue from the App Store should be shared. The deal does not involve revenue sharing with Apple according to China Daily.
The launch of the iPhone will be a boost for China, which is the worlds largest mobile phone market, and will definitely help China Unicom gain some market share from China Mobile. China Unicom also said that its 3G network will launch commercially on September 28th ,according to Bloomberg, as it enters the world's largest wireless market. With the Apple iPhone already released in 80 countries it seems that China was the last missing piece to the iPhone story.