Apple in a RACE to Hold Onto China

Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) is negotiating with Chinese wireless operator China Unicom (NYSE:CHU) for an extension of their partnership after the two companies’ current deal comes to an end this month. China Unicom president Lu Yimin told Marbridge Consulting he expected a new deal to close soon as both sides were “extremely satisfied” with the partnership. In March, the operator had announced its iPhone sales had generated “better-than-expected results.”

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China Unicom was the first wireless operator in the country to get the iPhone — in June 2009. Though the start was slow, with the device only bringing in 5,000 new subscribers at the launch, Apple is now the largest handset partner for the wireless provider in terms of devices shipped

Apple has since also partnered with China Telecom (NYSE:CHA), and is said to be in talks with China Mobile (NYSE:CHL), China’s largest wireless provider, to start offer the iPhone. China Mobile, which has 650 million subscribers and the largest share of the country’s 3G mobile users, has network compatibility issues with the iPhone that seem to have stopped a deal from going through just yet. The provider is now testing its 4G network with ClearWire (NASDAQ:CLWR).

According to recent data, Apple’s iOS platform made up 12.4 percent of China’s smartphone market, while Google’s (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android accounted for 55.4 percent.

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