* Unicom to announce iPhone deal in China as soon as Friday
* Taiwan's Hon Hai making iPhones for Chinese firm -official
(Adds details, background)
BEIJING/TAIPEI Aug 27 China Unicom (0762.HK)
will announce a deal to sell Apple's (AAPL.O) iPhone in China as
soon as Friday, an analyst said, citing an industry source with
direct knowledge of the situation.
The analyst requested anonymity due to the sensitivity of
Such a deal would mark a huge step for Apple, giving it
access to the world's largest mobile market with nearly 700
million subscribers. About two-thirds of those belong to
industry giant China Mobile (0941.HK), with the rest split
between Unicom and smaller rival China Telecom (0728.HK).
A China Unicom spokeswoman said the iPhone would undoubtedly
be discussed on Friday when the company is set to hold a media
briefing to discuss its results for the first half of 2009, but
she did not say whether an agreement would be announced.
An Apple spokeswoman was not immediately available for
Apple's iPhone manufacturing partner Hon Hai (2317.TW) is
making the iconic handset for a Chinese company, an official at
the Taiwanese firm said, declining to be named as he was not
authorised to speak to the media.
China Unicom, the country's second-biggest wireless carrier
and the only one that runs a 3G network based on the WCDMA
technology used in the iPhone, is expected to take market share
from China Mobile (0941.HK) in coming years.
Rumours have been circulating for months that Unicom and
Apple would sell iPhones in China. One point of contention was
reportedly the revenue sharing model adopted by Apple, which
Unicom opposed, according to media reports.
China's three carriers will spend $58.5 billion through 2011
building out their 3G networks, which will offer more
sophisticated mobile services, drawing foreign players to the
world's biggest mobile market.
The world's No.2 PC maker Dell Inc DELL.O said earlier
this month it was developing mobile products for China Mobile's
(Reporting by Michael Wei, Kirby Chien and Kelvin Soh; Editing
by Chris Lewis)