BEIJING (Reuters) - China Unicom, China’s second-largest telecommunications operator, may start selling Apple Inc’s iPhone 4 in the mainland market in September, state television reported on Thursday.
“China Unicom has reached an agreement with Apple, and the iPhone 4 may enter the mainland market by as early as next month,” the report said, citing a company statement released to the ongoing China Internet Conference in Beijing.
China Unicom officials in Beijing and Hong Kong declined to comment. Apple could not immediately be reach for comment.
“The rumor has been out for the last couple of days. It is something positive for China Unicom but not very significant as I think most subscribers find the price of the iPhone too high,” said Victor Yip, a Hong-Kong based analyst with UOB Kay Hian.
Various news media have reported this week that China Unicom may become Apple’s vendor for its popular iPad and iPhone 4 products. The reports have been unconfirmed by the company.
China Unicom, the sole telecom distributor of Apple’s iPhone, has seen slow sales for the popular handset because of high subscription fees and stiff competition from lower priced Android handsets.
China Mobile Ltd, the country’s largest provider, has also expressed interest in bringing in Apple’s iPhone and iPad products.
Apple opened its second flagship store in China last month and is on track to have 25 retail outlets in the country by the end of next year. Apple executives said in April that they saw the Chinese market as a major growth opportunity.
Reporting by Langi Chiang, Melanie Lee and Jerry Huang; Editing by Chris Lewis