Cupertino (CA) – Consumer gadget maker Apple is close to inking a deal allowing Chinese state telco China Unicom to sell the iPhone.
Analysts now expect the phone to hit shelves across China, the last major market still iPhone-free, as early as October.
China boasts the world’s largest mobile market, with some 687 million subscribers – roughly three times the size of the US market – and analysts predict that Apple could be on-course to shift almost three million of the gadgets in China by the end of 2011.
Since launching the device two years ago, Apple claims it has sold 26 million iPhones around the world, but the majority – almost half – of sales remain in the US. Industry watcher IDC reckons a mere seven percent of sales come from the Asia Pacific region and 25 percent from Europe.
And Apple desperately needs to boost its presence in China. The firm currently has less than one percent of the PC market, selling a meager 36,000 computers in the last quarter, according to IDC figures.