China Unicom Purchases 5 Million iPhones to Go on Sale Next Month?

International Business Times covers reports from Chinese-language media claiming that wireless carrier China Unicom has purchased 5 million China-specific iPhones from Apple and will begin selling them next month.

China Unicom, the potential exclusive distributor of iPhones in China, has poured 10 billion yuan ($1.46 billion) to buy 5 million units from Apple, ready to sell the first batch in September, local media reported on Wednesday.

China Unicom had already paid Apple 10 billion yuan ($1.46 billion) for 5 million WCDMA standard iPhones with unit price of 2,000 yuan ($293), CBN news said, citing a well-informed source.

The report also notes that Apple has given up its traditional business model of sharing in "profit dividends" from its distributors, apparently referring to a lack of subsidies from the carrier that in other countries boost Apple's sales price for entry-level iPhone models by several hundred dollars.

Apple made compromises in the China market because of its great demand and intense competition, but Apple can still make profits from each unit from 1,000 yuan and 1,100 yuan as China Unicom offers a good price for each unit.

The iPhone will reportedly be offered to customers at about 2,400 yuan ($351) for the 8 GB model, with the 16 GB model possibly priced at 4,800 yuan ($702).

The news comes on the heels of a reported trip to China by Apple vice president of iPod and iPhone Product Marketing Greg Joswiak and other executives last week in order to finalize details with China Unicom.

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