This week China Unicom executives reported that the company's partnership with Apple has done better than expected, and added to a 14% rise in profits for 2011.
Li Gang, Executive Director at China Unicom, described the partnership with Apple as having "generated better-than-expected results."
The company reported that it expanded both its 3G services and its fixed-line broadband businesses in 2011, for a net profit of roughly $672 million, up from $587 million in 2010. Still, this number didn't meet analyst expectations - estimates generated by Thomson Reuters had predicted $865 million in profit for the the year.
"The 3G business became the largest driving force of the company's revenue growth in 2011, the company further strengthened and expanded its differentiation competitive advantages in the 3G business by fully capitalizing on the driving effect of handsets, channels and applications," China Unicom added.
Twenty percent of the telecom's mobile users were on the 3G network at the end of 2011, after an increase of nearly 26 million customers. Average revenue per 3G user was roughly $17 a month for the year.
When the iPhone was launched in China in 2009, China Unicom was the exclusive partner in that country for over two years. Now, China Telecom is in the market, having released the iPhone 4S in the region earlier this month.
China is a big market for Apple, and the overtook the U.S. to become the world's largest smartphone market last year.
It was recently revealed that Chinese mobile users activated more iOS and Android devices in February than any other country. Apple CEO Tim Cook recently called the demand for iPhones in China "staggering."
Hat tip to Flurry.