After months of ads enticing China Telecom subscribers with views of the iPhone 4S, the huge Chinese wireless carrier has announced that it will begin sales of the newest iPhone on March 9, 2012. The company will begin taking reservations for the iPhone 4S on March 2 in anticipation of the rollout a week later.
China Telecom is the second largest carrier in China, and uses a CDMA network as opposed to the GSM network run by market leader China Unicom (which has been selling the iPhone 4S since January). The iPhone 4S is the first iPhone that can run on both networks without requiring separate models.
As part of China Telecom's rollout, the carrier will be offering the 16 GB iPhone 4S for free with a 2 year contract. According to a tweet from Asymco analyst Horace Dediu, China Unicom currently has 37 million 3G customers, with China Telecom adding another 33 million 3G users. That's a huge potential iPhone 4S market for Apple, and one that the company is eager to tap.
During last week's Goldman Sachs technology conference, Apple CEO Tim Cook made repeated references to the vast Chinese market and how the company is making that market a key target for its growth strategy in the future.