May 10,2009

A Million "Illegal" iPhones in China

By CSC staff, Shanghai
Although it has not yet formally entered China, the number of iPhones entering the Chinese market through various channels has reached over one million.

Telecommunications consulting service company Ovum recently released a report that says it has taken little more than a year for sales of the iPhone to double in the Chinese market. However, compared with the popularity in China, iPhone sales in North America were exceeded by RIM's BlackBerry for the first time.

At the end of 2007, consulting firm In-stat pointed out that the unlocked number of iPhones in the Chinese market reached 400,000, which means that within just more than a year, iPhone sales in China had increased by 2.5 times. Ovum estimates that if China Unicom introduces iPhone officially, sales in China will rise in a straight line.

At the same time, developers are seeking after the iPhone application in China. California's mobile video solutions provider, Vuclip, has joined hands with CCTV and will be launching a new iPhone video application this month. Prior to this, Vuclip also launched a video search service targeting iPhone users in China. Vuclip estimates tens of thousands of users have downloaded the video search application.

China's map software manufacturer AutoNavi has also launched the "mini-map" for iPhone users in China. AutoNavi believes that iPhone's official entering into the Chinese market will promote the proliferation of application downloads.
However, time is still needed for the iPhone to officially enter China. Li Gang, vice president of China Unicom, said it hoped that China Unicom's negotiations with Apple will achieve results within the year, while the Apple expects iPhone will officially enter China in 2010.

Sales of over one million amount to a large proportion for the total sales of Apple's iPhone. According to Apple's Q2 financial report released as of March 28, Apple sold a total of 3.8 million iPhones.

According to reports of NPD (a market research institution), in the North American market, sales of the RIM BlackBerry Curve 8300 series mobile phones exceeded the Apple iPhone in the first quarter, making it the highest seller among smart phones that quarter. This is the first time that the iPhone lost the championship of smart phone sales in North America.

Sales of the BlackBerry Curve 8300 benefited from four big U.S. cell phone operators; while the iPhone was sold only through AT&T. RIM's Q4 financial reports as of February 28 says that it has sold 7.8 million BlackBerry phones. NPD forecasted that RIM's share would increase by 15% in the first quarter in the U.S. smart phone market, to nearly 50%, while those of Apple and Palm would both drop by 10%.
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