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People's Daily Online>>China Business

Telco looks to expand

By Liang Fei (Global Times)

10:05, December 27, 2011

China Unicom, the sole partner of Apple on iPhone in the domestic market, Monday launched eight entry-level smartphone models together with eight domestic handset producers, aiming at a bigger slice of the middle- and low-end smartphone market.

The handset producers include Huawei Technologies, ZTE Corp, Lenovo Group and TCL Corp, among others. Two of the eight models will be available in the market right away, with the rest in the pipeline, said Wen Baoqiu, a China Unicom spokesman.

All of the eight handsets are powered by the Android operating system and will be sold at prices lower than 1,500 yuan ($236.73). And the handsets boast a 4-inch touchscreen, larger than iPhone's 3.5-inch.

"Price will be the key factor in winning the competition in the middle- and low-end smartphone segment," said Wang Ying, an industry analyst with Analysys International.

China Unicom's cooperation with Apple Inc has greatly driven the number of its high-end users and expanded the user base of its WCDMA network. Until November, it has 36.53 million 3G users, with more than 3 million users added to its 3G network that month.

China Mobile, China's top operator by the number of users, has the largest 3G user base of 48 million by November, with some 2 million new 3G users signing up each month.

China Unicom's new move will greatly enhance its presence in the entry-level smartphone market, said Shen Zheyi, research director of mobile devices and consumer services at research firm Gartner.

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