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Summary:

Sixty years ago this month, Mao Zedong declared the birth of the People’s Republic of China, but it was Apple VP Greg Joswiak who said this was “an extraordinary day” for China. The iPhone has (officially) arrived. The most sought-after smartphone in the world has entered […]

china_iphone_posterSixty years ago this month, Mao Zedong declared the birth of the People’s Republic of China, but it was Apple VP Greg Joswiak who said this was “an extraordinary day” for China. The iPhone has (officially) arrived.

The most sought-after smartphone in the world has entered the most sought after market. More than 700 million cell phone users now have access to the iPhone without a trip to the gray market, if they can afford it.

According to the Wall Street Journal, China Unicom is selling the iPhone 3GS for 6,999 yuan, or $1,024 without a contract. AT&T charges $699 for the same model without a contract in the U.S. Add in the cost of a service contract, and over two years a Chinese subscriber will pay around $3,000, approximately the yearly average salary. Not surprisingly, the Wall Street Journal trots out that tired bromide about Apple products: price.

“It’s too expensive,” says Marco Bai, a teacher in Beijing. He currently uses a smart phone–a handset with souped-up functions like email and video–made by a Chinese domestic brand that cost him about $205. “There are many smart phones with similar functions” to the iPhone in China, he says. “And they are all cheaper.”

How many earnings reports and ever-increasing market share graphs will it take to convince skeptics that people are willing to pay more for a better product? More than 100 million Chinese use their mobile phones to access the Internet. Considering the iPhone’s superior web browsing experience, it’s easy to imagine millions of iPhones sold in China. In fact, it’s already happened.

The gray market of around 2 million iPhones is possibly the biggest competitor to the official model. All of those imported units have Wi-Fi, too, unlike the iPhones currently being sold by China Unicom due to government restrictions. However, the ban on Wi-Fi has been lifted, so future iPhones in China will have Wi-Fi.

Setting aside doom and gloom from the Wall Street Journal, the Chinese market arguably will become second in importance only to the U.S. market. Remember when Steve Jobs predicted that Apple would get one percent of the cell phone market in 2008? In China for 2010, one percent would be seven million iPhones, a third of what the company sold last year worldwide.

Clearly, the revolution is at hand.

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  1. the communist iPhone? rly? funny.

  2. For the iPhone in China, Freedom Is the Great Wall Friday, October 30, 2009

    [...] By Sebastian Rupley | Friday, October 30, 2009 | 12:00 PM PT | 0 comments | 0 tweets retweet » Now that the iPhone is officially on sale in China — a huge market that few thought it would be allowed to enter — the focus has turned to its high price, and whether that will hinder its prospects in the region. China Unicom began selling the phone today; a 32GB iPhone 3GS goes for 6,999 yuan ($1,024) without a service contract, according to the Wall Street Journal. “Add in the cost of a service contract, and over two years a Chinese subscriber will pay around $3,000, approximately the yearly average salary,” notes TheAppleBlog. [...]

  3. Good luck iPhone. :-) Is there any recognizable competition (Palm, HTC, etc.) for the iPhone in China?

  4. “Year of the iPhone Officially Added to Chinese Lunar Calendar” and related posts | Movie Listings Central Saturday, October 31, 2009

    [...] iPhone Launches in China – TheAppleBlog [...]

  5. “Year of the iPhone Officially Added to Chinese Lunar Calendar” and related posts – KuASha Organization Saturday, October 31, 2009

    [...] iPhone Launches in C&#104&#105&#110a – TheAppleBlog [...]

  6. While it is true that people are willing to pay more for a better product, the two year subscription will cost about $3,000, approximately the yearly average salary. Would you pay half your yearly income to have an iPhone or would you settle for an alternative?

    In China, the iPhone will be reserved to the elite chinese that have a far bigger income than the average chinese.

    Furthermore, such exorbitant pricing only gives a strong incentive to local companies to come up with cheaper alternatives. Android, an open platform considered a viable competitive platform to Apple’s, combined with much lower cost hardware from resourceful chinese manufacturers will give our admired Apple very strong competition. In the medium turn, China is capable of outrunning Apple on its home turf. Apple needs to come up with a very competitive offering for China.

    1. And yet iPhones have been selling in China already for a couple of years now.

      The ‘average salary’ is different from the millions of families in China who can afford the iPhone.

  7. Chrome to Pass Safari in Browser Market Share Monday, November 2, 2009

    [...] having. Unlike Linux, the iPhone OS is steadily increasing share, and with the introduction of the iPhone in China and the U.S. holiday season, iPhone OS may break half a percent by the end of the year. To put that [...]

  8. iPhone lanseras i Kina – i censurerad version | iPhone 24 Monday, November 2, 2009

    [...] AP: iPhone comes to China without key feature The Apple Blog: iPhone Launches in China [...]

  9. iPhone Officially on Sale in China, Without Wi-Fi | Network King Monday, November 2, 2009

    [...] free voice over IP (VoIP) phone calling. However, it was apparently a temporary restriction, as the ban against Wi-Fi on iPhone has allegedly been lifted for future manufacturing. → iPhone Gets Lukewarm Reception in China [...]

  10. And Chinese government control of the more “subversive” aspects of the iPhone in 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 . . .

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