After months of negotiations and regulatory setbacks, Apple has finally announced that it is releasing the iPhone 4S in China. China Unicom, which is China’s second largest carrier, will be the sole provider of the iPhone. It currently boasts 200 million subscribers – roughly 2/3 the entire population of the US. It is is offering the iPhone 4S for free and monthly rates as low as $45 per month if you sign a 3 year contract. As much as I hate being locked into long-term contracts, I would have to say that these terms are pretty enticing. Too bad I don’t live in China.
“Customer response to our products in China has been off the charts,” said Apple CEO Tim Cook. “With the launch in China next week, iPhone 4S will be available in over 90 countries making this our fastest iPhone rollout ever.”
Apple announced that China will be among 22 other countries that will get the 4S beginning January 13, 2012. Those countries include Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Bolivia, Botswana, British Virgin Islands, Cameroon, Cayman Islands, Central African Republic, China, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Grenada, Guam, Guinea Conakry, Ivory Coast, Jamaica, Kenya, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritius, Niger, Senegal, St. Vincent and The Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos, and Uganda. Since the iPhone already accounts for nearly half of Apple’s annual revenue, some experts think this could increase to as much as 60%.
What about Siri? When the 4S officially launches in China, Siri won’t speak and understand Mandarin, but it will eventually. Apple plans to add official language support later this year.