updated 09:36 am EDT, Wed June 20, 2012
Deal so far producing 'better-than-expected results'
Carrier China Unicom is in negotiations with Apple to renew the partnership the two companies forged in June 2009, according to Marbridge Consulting. At the time the parties signed a three-year deal to bring the iPhone to China for the first time. Unicom was in fact the only official Chinese iPhone carrier until March of this year, when China Telecom was allowed to join the fray.
Any details of what Apple and Unicom might be aiming at in talks remain unknown. Unicom may now be facing an uphill battle though, as it must not only compete with any deals made with China Telecom, but also the looming specter of China Mobile, the world's largest cellular carrier at over 650 million subscribers. While any iPhones currently on the Mobile network are hacked, and can't use the carrier's China-exclusive version of 3G, Apple is believed to be adding LTE 4G to the next iPhone, and Mobile is in the process of rolling out an LTE network. The carrier has long said that it is negotiations for the iPhone.