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Source: Global Times Global Times

iPhone expected to enter China market in Sept

Published: 17 Jul 2009 02:02:01 PST

China Unicom and Apple have finalized details of an agreement, which will introduce the latter’s most popular gadget, the iPhone 3G into the China market, likely in September, according to the China Business Network (CBN).

An iPhone 3G cellphone is undergoing testing in the China Telecommunication Technology Labs (CTTL), which confirms CBN’s report. CTTL was authorized by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) to carry out mandatory tests on the cell phone before it goes into the market.

CBN also says that iPhone’s OEM manufacturer, Foxconn, has played a crucial middle-man role in the signing of the agreement.

The Wi-Fi function will be disabled on the Chinese version of the iPhone 3G to comply with the requirements of MIIT, but other features of the popular mobile device will remain, according to the CBN.

Before the partnership with China Unicom, Apple had approached China Mobile as a way to enter the China market. However, there were conflicts in strategic goals, such as the control of profit chains which prevented the cooperation.

As for now, the details of the cooperation between Apple and its new partner China Unicom remain unclear. But as the introduction of the iPhone 3G corresponds to China Unicom’s strategy to boost its market image with well-known foreign products, it is probable that the second-largest mobile operator in China will tolerate more profits flowing to Apple.

However, there will be more competition for the iPhone 3G phones sold in China. According to a conservative estimate, more than 1 million shuihuo, or smuggled iPhones had already entered China because there are currently no legal channel of sales for these cell phones. Smuggled into China in thousands per day, these shuihuo iPhones with Wi-Fi capability pose a serious threat to the success of China Unicom’s plan.

Liu Fei and Agencies contributed to this story

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