China Unicom denies having bought 5M iPhones

We'd still venture to say that all signs are pointing toward an iPhone launch on China Unicom before too long, but one key element of the launch -- Unicom's upfront buy -- is now in question. A spokesman for China's third-largest carrier (which is an amazingly low rank considering they've got about as many subscribers as Verizon and AT&T combined) has denied earlier reports that they've stockpiled five million handsets in preparation for launch, saying that negotiations with Apple are still ongoing. We imagine that when you're dealing with a nine-figure subscriber count, any hardware negotiation is complex, tense, and filled with counteroffers, so there's no telling how much longer this process could take.

[Via Unwired View]