It appears that China Unicom has been selected as the sole distributor of iPhones in China, according to a report in the International Business Times today. While the deal has yet to be finalized, the company has purchased 5 million WCDMA iPhones without Wi-Fi from Apple at a price of 10 billion yuan (US$1.46 billion).
China Unicom is to begin selling the 3G phones in September at company stalls in Carrefour stores, as well as at several large China Unicom retail outlets. The phones are expected to sell for 2,400 yuan (US$352 as of this writing) for an 8GB model and 4,800 yuan (US$704) for a 16GB iPhone. It's estimated that Apple's profit from each sale is about 1,100 yuan (US$161).
China Unicom faces stiff competition from black market iPhones, which are selling for as low as 400 yuan ($59). The International Business Times report notes that Apple made large concessions to China Unicom in order to enter the massive Chinese market. To give some scale to the size of this sale, Apple reported during the 3Q 2009 conference call with Wall Street analysts that they had sold a total of 5.2 million iPhones in the last quarter.