Apple is stepping up its product releases in the world’s largest mobile market
China’s Caixin Media group reported Monday that China Unicom
has won the right to sell the iPad — both the Wi-Fi and the 3G versions — in China. No date for the product’s release was given.
The report follows news that China Unicom will be selling the iPhone 4 in early September, less than three months after that device was released in the U.S.
China Unicom, with 315 million subscribers, is China’s second-largest carrier and Apple’s
exclusive partner in China — at least for now. The chairman of China Mobile
, the world’s largest carrier with more than 500 million wireless subscribers, said in May that his company had a keen interest in the iPad.
It was only last week that China Unicom was allowed to sell the Wi-Fi version of the iPhone 3GS that had been available in the rest of the world for more than a year. Chinese government restrictions on high-speed Internet access had prevented Apple and China Unicom from marketing any device in China equipped with a Wi-Fi radio.
Now that those restrictions have been lifted, Apple seems to be moving aggressively to put the Chinese market on the same product release timetable as the rest of Asia.
[Follow Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Twitter @philiped]