In the next few days, the iPhone is finally expected to go on sale in China via the country’s second largest telecom provider, China Unicom. Getting the iPhone into China was certainly a huge accomplishment for Apple as it opens the door to millions of potential new customers. One of the more interesting things we’ve heard, though, about Apple’s deal with China Unicom involves the price of the data plans China Unicom is planning on charging its customers.
According to a recent report in the Mercury News, Chinca Unicom is saying that some iPhone customers will be charged as high as $130 a month while others monthly plans, out of a grand total of 8, will begin at a much more affordable price point of $18.50. But like everything else in this world, price is relative, and while that $18.50/month deal might sound great to those in the US and in Europe, the average phone bill for a China Unicom subscriber is about $6.19 a month.
The going retail price for the iPhone 3G in China will come in at $732, but those who elect to sign up for the $130 a month plan will get their iPhone for free, 100% subsidized. And lest you think you can pull one over on China Unicom, those who sign up for the “free” iPhone will be required to fork over a security deposit of $1,170, which we presume will be returned once the life of the contract expires.
We’ll have to wait and see if the Chinese smartphone market is as profitable as it’s been hyped up to be, but with the way things are looking now, it appears that the iPhone in China might be pigeonholed as a luxury item only affordable to a lucky few.