China Unicom on Thursday denied reports that it plans to begin selling iPhones in September after buying 5 million of the handsets from Apple for CNY10 billion ($1.46 billion).
A statement issued by the operator's Guangdong branch and reported by Trading Markets denied the rumours; however, the same report claimed that the two companies have agreed on all the major terms for introducing the coveted device to China, and that they are close to reaching a final deal.
An earlier report by International Business News claimed that China Unicom's head of customer development in Guangzhou told local media that the first batch of iPhones would go on sale in the operator's retail outlets as well as Unicom's 3G stalls in branches of Carrefour.
"The price of the 8GB standard iPhone is set at about CNY2,400 and the 16GB may be sold at CNY4,800," said Yu Zaonan, in the report.
As rumours go it's one of the more convincing ones since one of Unicom's employees complete with job title has blabbed about how much an iPhone will cost when they finally go on sale.
Plus, it is understood that Apple's strategy of striking revenue-sharing deals with local operators is not permitted by Chinese authorities, so maybe we will see it change tack in order to get the iPhone on the shelves in China.
Rest assured when Apple and Unicom finally go public, you'll be able to follow the full story on Total Telecom.