China Unicom's iPhone sales hit 100,000

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China Unicom has sold more than 100,000 iPhones since it launched the country's first official sales of the handset at the end of October, it said Thursday.

The figure is the first China Unicom has revealed since saying a few days after the launch that it had sold just 5,000 iPhones. The number marks a rise in the pace of iPhone sales but is still outshone by the hit phone's performance in other markets. South Korean carrier KT, for instance, said it received more than 60,000 pre-orders for the iPhone before it even launched sales late last month. China, with the world's largest number of mobile subscribers at 700 million, is a far bigger market than South Korea.

China Unicom gave no other details on its iPhone sales but called the handset a “great success.” The carrier is selling both the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS, but its versions have Wi-Fi removed to comply with local regulations. That has harmed their appeal compared to iPhones brought into the country from abroad and sold at electronics bazaars. Those phones, sold unlocked and with Wi-Fi, also come at a lower price than the official iPhone in China. China Unicom is selling the 32GB iPhone 3GS with no service contract for 6,999 yuan (US$1,023), while users can pay a little over $800 for the phone in nearby Hong Kong.

Many wealthy urbanites in China owned iPhones before the phone officially launched there. Ovum, a consultancy, estimated months ago that there were already 1 million iPhones in China.

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