China Unicom Moves Away From the iPhone

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Includes: AAPL, BB, CHA, CHL, CHU
by: Emerging Money

The iPhone may not be the symbol to global prosperity for long. China Unicom (NYSE:CHU), which distributes Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iconic smartphone in China, is unveiling its own high-end handset soon.

CHU is generally considered the most technologically sexy of China's three big cell carriers: China Telecom (NYSE:CHA) is generally considered too tied to its legacy fixed-line business and China Mobile (NYSE:CHL) has been seen as failing to bring the iPhone to its own platform.

However, now that it looks like CHU is not happy with the iPhone either, CHL looks relatively smart for delaying its negotiations with Apple. Instead, CHL has pursued a program of selling either Blackberry from RIMM or its own proprietary Ophone handsets.

CHU's "Uphone" is set to come out before the end of the year, but pricing and other details are as yet scant at best. What we do know is that Huawei Technologies and ZTE are on tap to make the phones -- and that you can trade ZTE in ADR form as OTCPK:ZTCOY.

With CHU adding over 1 million 3G smartphone accounts a month, the news may not hurt AAPL much since there seem to be plenty of sales to go around. But an account like this could be a real company-maker for ZTCOY:

Whether it translates into bigger business for CHU in the fierce race for Chinese smartphone subscribers remains to be seen.

Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.