File this under “highly unlikely to happen” because of two reasons: 1) China Unicom is a not really a “pure” GSM carrier (they have both GSM and CDMA network) and the iPhone relies on the GSM technology; 2) We’ve already posted China Mobile may be the carrier for the iPhone. Though the latter doesn’t confirm nor deny anything… 🙂
On the other hand, it’s still very early to say whether iPhone will ever hit the Chinese market. While China keeps growing like crazy, their people are still considered a cheap labor for the Western world – hence not many of them will be able to afford Apple’s handset. Then again, Apple could sell its device cheaper in the “world’s fastest growing economy” and make money from the scale. That being said if they ever enter the Chinese mobile market, they may actually produce a CDMA handset as well and really get the nationwide reach, although we doubt Jobs&Co will be able to get the same kind of deal they’ve got from AT&T and/or European carriers.
Anyway, Li Zhengmao – executive director and VP of China Unicom said to Dow Jones: “It seems that iPhone is hot in some markets. We are willing to discuss with Apple.” The same guy was later on interviewed by Reuters when he said: “Right now, we don’t have any plans to introduce Apple’s iPhones in China. But of course, we’re always willing to discuss a good business opportunity if it presents itself. As for whether we’ll talk about iPhones with Apple, you’ll have to ask Apple.”
Is it just a cheap PR to get some attention, or what? You be the judge…