Call it proof that there's a global wireless karma equilibrium, if you will, that needs to be maintained: China Unicom has warned that its net profit for 2009 will be down a whopping 50 percent, while one of its doppelgangers across the Sea of Japan -- NTT DoCoMo -- has encountered exactly the opposite fortune on news that it has posted a 48 percent year-over-year improvement in black ink. Unicom blames a perfect storm for its misfortune, citing the sale of its CDMA network in 2008 for an artificially inflated profit a year ago combined with the immense expense involved in rolling out its HSPA cells over the course of 2009.
DoCoMo, meanwhile, ironically benefited from weak demand for new handsets that pushed its procurement costs lower, and it might be the start of a revolution in the way Japanese phones are announced and offered. Reports circulating today suggest that the carrier is gearing up to offer micro SIMs capable of working with Apple's iPad, which would mark a first for any major Japanese network; historically, you've had to buy a phone from them, but with LTE looking more globally harmonious than any network technology before it, this might be the start of something good. Speaking of LTE, NEC has announced that it'll be demoing a concept LTE "terminal" (presumably a handset) in cooperation with DoCoMo at MWC this month, likely the first example of many we'll see over the course of the year as a number of carriers around the world march toward live 4G networks.