The iPhone is already popular in China even though it officially has not entered its mobile market. The iPhone can be bought in the underground market and unlocked by software in order to purchase applications. In some estimates, there are already 1.5 million devices in use within China.
With more than 687 million mobile phone users in China–the largest market in the world, Apple is eager to start doing business in the region. The success of the iPhone seems predetermined with so much interest even before its official release in the country. For many Chinese the iPhone is a status symbol–a display of the cutting edge, wealth and coolness.
The research firm IDC has attributed 7% of the iPhone sales to the Asia Pacific region within areas like Australia, Hong Kong and India. (The US is still the largest iPhone market. The iPhone has not however performed as strong in Japan, where the Apple brand does not carry the same golden shine as it does in the US.)
China Unicom is the expected carrier of the iPhone. Apple is nearly conclusion with negotiations with China’s state-owned wireless operator. Apple has also already received one of the technical licenses required by the Chinese Government, but it is unknown how many more licenses it will have to complete. Currently the anticipated release is October 2009.