China Unicom Signs/Doesn't Sign Three-Year iPhone Exclusive
If China Unicom and Apple haven’t already inked a deal to bring the iPhone to China, they’re very close to doing so.
This morning, a report in Shanghai Securities News claimed the two companies had reached an agreement that grants China Unicom three years of exclusivity. The terms are said to call for the carrier to purchase iPhones from Apple for 3,000 yuan ($439) each and guarantee annual sales of one million to two million units and at least five billion yuan ($732 million) in annual revenue.
At present, there is no revenue-sharing agreement. That had become a sticking point in negotiations and Apple (AAPL) seems to have foregone it in order to finalize the deal.
But has an overall agreement really been reached? As I noted earlier, state-run media claim it has. China Unicom, however, says otherwise.
“We have made progress but there are still some problems to be resolved,” a Unicom spokesperson told AFP. “Both sides have their own timeframe for an agreement but essentially it depends on the practical progress of the negotiations.”
That said, it seems clear that an agreement will be reached. Certainly, China Unicom would be foolish to balk at this point. To win the right to be the sole supplier of the iPhone in the world’s largest mobile market for three years would go a long way toward bolstering Unicom’s weak performance and make it easier for it to compete against rivals China Mobile and China Telecom.