After a good year of negotiations with Apple, and a lengthy delay even after the announced deal, China Unicom will finally start selling the Apple iPhone in the most populated place on Earth. The Chinese telecom giant will begin peddling the iPhone – starting this week – even though more than a million and a half are already in use in the Middle Kingdom.
Prices for the device are reportedly sky-high: more than $700 U.S dollars — around six with subsidies. Being that this is well outside the average Chinese citizen’s budget, and so many already use an unlocked Apple phone, a subsidiary of Unicom China has agreed to give service to all the black-market iPhone users, too.
Most unlocked devices flourish in regions with more than one carrier, but China only has one. Imported unlocked iPhones, like iPhone knock-offs, are a much cheaper alternative to the $700 – about 5,000 yuan – price tag. While it might bring more business to the telecom company, it leaves the Chinese with very little incentive to buy an above-the-board iPhone. This can’t last very long.