China Unicom first denied rumors of a deal but reports persisted in Chinese state media that the telecommunications giant had finally reached an agreement with Apple to release the iPhone in that country. A new product page on the China Unicom Web site for the iPhone 3G suggest that the deal is all but done.
According to China Tech News:
Under the agreement, China Unicom will reportedly give a certain amount of subsidies to the users of iPhone and will share the profits from iPhone's value-added services with Apple. In return, Apple will also make some compromises and its iPhone products in China can only be used with China Unicom's SIM cards. Apple is apparently currently testing the compatibility between its iPhone products and the WCDMA network of China Unicom as well as making preparation for the software localization.
Various reports indicate that the two companies will formally announce the news on May 17 to correspond with World Telecommunication Day and the launch of China Unicom's new 3G network.
CNet's Tom Krazit reports that Apple and China Mobile have negotiated for over a year but that talks broke down when the carrier requested control of the App Store in China and required new iPhone hardware that would work with the homegrown 3G standard used by China Mobile.
China Unicom has 130 million subscribers almost doubling AT&T's 77 million subscribers.
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