Update: We’re told that Apple’s deal with China Unicom is NOT exclusive. See new post here.
Earlier: More details are crossing the wires about Apple’s newly announced deal to sell the iPhone in China with China Unicom, the no. 2 wireless carrier there.
- China Unicom has a multi-year exclusive, the FT reports. China Unicom’s release says the carrier has a “three-year agreement” with Apple to sell the phone, but does not specify if it is exclusive throughout the entire deal. (See update above.)
- It’s not a revenue sharing deal, according to numerous reports. China Unicom will buy phones on a wholesale basis and will subsidise them, the same way most of Apple’s carrier partners sell the phone.
Still no Street estimates (that we’ve come across) on what Apple’s channel fill for China may look like. But either way, filling the Chinese retail channel could be a nice bump for Apple’s iPhone shipments — potentially hundreds of thousands of units — likely during the December quarter, when the phone will go on sale in China.
China Unicom had 141 million users at the end of July, compared with 498 million for China Mobile, the world’s biggest carrier. AT&T, Apple’s exclusive U.S. carrier, had 79.6 million subs at the end of June.
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