China Unicom to Launch Subsidized iPhone Tariff

Business Week reports that the Chinese carrier company China Unicom is up to provide a fully subsidized (free) iPhone 4S for users that will go for long-term contracts.

Unicom has revealed a variety of new tariffs in Chinese, which will be operative as soon as iPhone 4S hit the shelves on January 13. The users who will opt for three year deal will receive a 32GB device, while 16GB device will be given to those who opt for two year contract. It seems that the deal will be limited to rich customers with ¥286 ($45) a month.

After China Mobile, Unicom is the second largest carrier company in China. The company has witnessed a massive growth in 3G subscriptions over the last year. Apple is also trying to expand its market in the China by partnering with China Telecom to offer its iPhone 4S, but Unicom’s fully subsidized offer may prove to be a major breakthrough in drawing high-end users with such high monthly charges.

It is not that the operator targeting only the affluent customers, it recently launched eight inexpensive smartphones earlier this week and all of them are priced below 1,500 RMB ($238). Marbridge Consulting says that it is good to see to involve both high-end and low-end customers:

Unicom expects China’s RMB 1,000 smartphone market to reach 90 million units sold in 2012, while 60 mln smartphones priced between RMB 1,000 and RMB 2,000 will be sold, including both well-known domestic and international brands.

Apple has not yet managed to partnership with the world’s largest operator, China Mobile, however, some rumors suggesting that the deal will finalize somewhere around mid of this year, which will be the massive achievement for the Apple.

Unicom’s step to offer subsidizing devices will prove to be a vital development since Apple’s iPhone ranks in the priciest handsets in China along with many other markets across Asia. Initially, it was started off with higher tariffs, but as the users grow, the initial cost of the device has been reduced.

Apple has firmly rejected the rumors regarding the budget device, or iPhone Nano. Apple strictly says that the company won’t compromise over the performance of its smartphone. Though, it can help the company to increase its user-base particularly in Asia. However, Apple is compensating through offering its older devices at lower price. For this reason, its older devices like iPhone 3GS and other devices are still in production.

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