Only yesterday, there were hints that the iPhone could be headed to China with China Mobile. Now rival China Unicom has expressed a similar interest. One of their executives, Executive Director Li Zhengmao, is quoted as saying, “But of course, we’re always willing to discuss a good business opportunity if it presents itself. As for whether we’ll talk about iPhones with Apple, you’ll have to ask Apple.”
With China Mobile already expressing concerns about subscription revenue sharing, having another player express interest may well play into Apple’s hands. China Unicom is about half the size of China Mobile (156 million subscribers compared to over 350 million) and it may be willing to make more concessions in order to carry the iPhone and use it to close the gap with their competitor.
The price of the iPhone may also play into all this. At USD$399, it costs more than what the average Chinese earns in a month. If so, the iPhone could find itself limited to an elite audience.
One thing is clear: Negotiations are just getting started so an announcement may still be a ways off. Another concern is the price of the iPhone. The average Chinese earns less in a month than the price of the iPhone (USD$399) so the iPhone could well end up as a luxury item available to few.