Apple iPhone Sells 100,000 Units in China

Reports say Apple sold around 100,000 iPhones in China through partner China Unicom. Apple is also apparently in negotiations with China Mobile to expand the reach of the device, which China Unicom launched on Oct. 30. While iPhone sales have been relatively weak in China, the smartphone continues to post strong numbers in the U.S. market, although the iPhone's burgeoning success has also led to calls for tighter regulation of its App Store. Earlier in December, Apple yanked apps from a Chinese developer that was accused of giving its products fake positive reviews.

Apple's iPhone has sold around 100,000 units in China through its partner in that country, China Unicom, according to reports circulating online. That number is far smaller than the number of iPhones sold in the United States, but nonetheless represents a marked increase from the beginning of November, when only a few thousand phones were sold to consumers.

A note on China Unicom's unaudited, condensed, consolidated balance sheet indicated that the iPhone and related services were launched on Oct. 30. According to its Interim Report for 2009, the total subscriber base for the first half of the year was around 140 million customers.

Apple has a three-year, nonexclusive agreement with China Unicom to sell iPhones in China. Although initial iPhone sales were anemic-likely due to a reported selling price as high as 7,000 yuan, or $1,172-Unicom Chairman Chang Xiaobing has said the company is "very confident" in the device's ultimate market prospects.

Negotiations between Apple and China Mobile are reportedly still under way. During the GSM Association's Mobile Asia Conference in November, China Mobile Chairman and CEO Wang Jianzhou indicated to media that talks had been going on for more than two years.

While iPhone sales were relatively weak in China, the smartphone has helped Apple weather the economic recession in the United States remarkably well. On Oct. 19, Apple announced fiscal fourth-quarter results that trumped Wall Street expectations, with sales of 7.4 million iPhones contributing to revenues of $9.87 billion.

But the overall success of the iPhone in the smartphone space has also led to problems. Apple carries about 100,000 mobile applications in its App Store, a number expected by research company IDC to grow to around 300,000 by the end of 2010, but with that growth has come calls from outside groups to more consistently regulate the programs and reviews featured on the online storefront.

On Dec. 7, Apple yanked more than 1,000 applications posted to the App Store by Chinese developer Molinker, after complaints that fake positive reviews were being posted for those applications.

The day after that, Apple launched an RSS feed for iPhone developers, creating a new communication channel for news and announcements about the App Store's submissions and reviews that can be subscribed to through this link.