• China Unicom to Support Black Market iPhones?

    This week China Unicom starts selling the Apple iPhone legitimately in China. The new phones - reportedly priced at an astronomical 5,000 (about USD $700) each - will join an estimated 2 million black market iPhones in the People's Republic. According to reports, a China Unicom subsidiary has agreed to give service to all the black-market iPhone users, too.

    China Unicom is the smaller competitor to dominant China Mobile, which developed the Ophone mobile phone operating system that can support its homegrown TD-SCDMA 3G standard. China Mobile still claims Ophone devices will come out this year, but no release dates have yet been set. So China Unicom has a potentially narrow window to gain market share on China Mobile, which recently surpassed 500 million users.

    The black-market price of unlocked iPhones in China is generally around 3,000 (about $400), with Chinese copycats available for as little as 1,000. Since urban workers in China make about 30,000 a year on average, with workers in the big eastern cities being closer to 35,000, the price will keep the legit China Unicom iPhone out of reach for most, even with subsidies of about $100 each.

    China Unicom may sell as many as 3 million iPhones in China in the coming year, according to market research firm Piper Jaffray.

    image via Sina.com
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