It seems Apple has learned its lesson. After dealing with a variety of hassles due to their exclusivity contract with AT&T (poor connection times, an overly controlling carrier, FCC investigations...) Apple has decided not to go down the same road for their dealings in the Far East. AppleInsider reports that an Apple spokesperson has confirmed that the China Unicom contract is not exclusive.
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This represents a steep departure for the Cupertino-based company. Their spokesperson did not say whether or not Apple was in negotiations with other carriers as well, so we don't know if they have other plans, or are just keeping their options open. Not having an exclusivity agreement would certainly give Apple a position of power for any bargaining they end up doing with the carrier.
Despite all this, China Unicom doesn't believe the iPhone will have any other carriers. They operate on a GSM/UMTS 3G mobile network, which uses the same signalling technology as AT&T does in the US. Other carriers in China use very different technology, which would necessitate a major change in the iPhone's internal hardware. Apple has already altered the iPhone for China once, though, and I don't think they'd hesitate to do it again to gain China Mobile's half-billion subscribers as potential customers.
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Apple definitely wants China Unicom as well. They're the nation's second-largest wireless provider, with a subscriber base of around 141 million. This three-year deal nearly doubles the potential subscriber base for the iPhone, and gives Apple a global leg-up on all competing smartphone manufacturers. For a company so new to the mobile game, Apple certainly isn't wasting any time being timid.