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IPhone 5 hits stores on Friday

By Shen Jingting (China Daily) Updated: 2012-12-12 08:21 Comments

Two telecom companies to compete over sales of Apple smartphones

Two Chinese telecom carriers - China Unicom (Hong Kong) Ltd and China Telecom Corp Ltd - announced on Tuesday that they will offer Apple Inc's latest iPhone 5 handsets in the Chinese mainland starting on Friday.

The release date for China comes almost three months after the iPhone 5's debut in the United States. China Unicom will offer service contracts for the device starting at 5,899 yuan ($944) and China Telecom will offer it at a contract-plan price starting at 5,288 yuan.

IPhone 5 hits stores on Friday

An advertisement to pre-order Apple Inc's iPhone 5 at a China Telecom Corp outlet in Haikou, Hainan province. The company started allowing customers to pre-order the smartphone on Dec 2, a day before China Unicom. [Photo by Shi Yan / for China Daily]

The iPhone 5's debut in the Chinese market will be the first time that the two telecom carriers will compete with each other over customers starting from the release of an Apple mobile phone product.

China Telecom signed an agreement with Apple and began selling iPhone 4S devices in the domestic market in March, making it the second Chinese operator, after China Unicom, to introduce an iPhone handset on contract in the mainland.

The two telecom operators posted their announcements at almost the same time on Tuesday morning, yet their competition to attract buyers had started several months before.

"The two carriers have recently conducted an intensified marketing war to win over potential iPhone 5 buyers," said Kevin Wang, China Research director of iSuppli Asia Shanghai Ltd.

"It seems that China Telecom, which was a latecomer in becoming an authorized partner of Apple, is moving more aggressively."

China Telecom was the first Chinese carrier to announce it would introduce the iPhone 5 handset to the mainland. It started allowing customers to pre-order the iPhone 5 on Dec 2, a day before China Unicom.

Even so, analysts said China Unicom holds several advantages in the race to sell iPhones.

"Compared with China Telecom, China Unicom has a longer relationship with Apple, as well as a well-developed distribution channel and a long-standing management group," said Huang Meng, telecom analyst with Beijing-based Analysys International.

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