Apple and China Unicom will be reaching the end of a three-year agreement later this month. The president of China Unciom, Lu Yimin, is confident that both companies will agree on and sign a new contract. Yimin has reportedly revealed that China Unicom is currently negotiating a new deal with Apple as a result of their already successful partnership.
In terms of devices shipping, Apple has become China Unicom’s biggest handset partner in the past three years. China Unicom first started selling iPhones in 2009. It was a slow start that first year in China with just 5,000 new subscribers when it launched. It hit its stride in 2012 with the release of the iPhone 4.
In January, China Unicom began selling the iPhone 4S, but this launch was delayed by a near-mob outside of an Apple Store in Beijing.
Recently, China Unicom lost its exclusive hold on the iPhone in China when China Telecom, the third largest carrier in the country, garnered 200,000 preorders in March when it started selling the iPhone 4S.
While Unicom is currently the biggest seller of the iPhone in China, Apple is apparently in talks with China Mobile, which has more than 650 million subscribers and holds the largest share of China’s 3G mobile users. More than 15 million customers already use the iPhone unofficially on China Mobile’s network. With numbers like these, China Mobile is a huge sales opportunity for Apple.
In April, Apple revealed that iPhone sales were up five times higher than a year ago in Greater China. By extending a new contract with China Unicom and possibly making a deal with China Mobile, Apple sales will only continue to rise.