Apple edging closer to China iPhone launch (again)

Apple is reportedly setting itself up for an iPhone launch in China according to published reports.

Apple is reportedly near an iPhone launch in China yet again.

Spotting an iPhone launch in China has been as hard as finding a unicorn. Apple's negotiations have been rocky with Chinese wireless carriers and a deal still isn't done.

But according to a Wall Street Journal report, Apple is nearing a China launch. Much of the story appears to be a catch-up to details that have leaked out.

The Journal notes:

  • Apple faces stiff competition from Nokia overseas;
  • China could be a boon to iPhone units;
  • Apple has received a technical license for the iPhone in China but may need more;
  • And negotiations with China Unicom are close to being completed.

An iPhone launch is huge for Apple. China Unicom's subscriber base is roughly 150 million subscribers. By 2015, China Unicom is expected to have more than 250 million subscribers, according to Deutsche Bank estimates. If a deal with China Unicom were signed in October Apple could "reasonably" sell 1 million iPhones in China in 2009 and 3 million to 5 million in 2010, according to Deutsche Bank analyst Chris Whitmore.


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