The iPhone has officially launched in China, but customers don't seem to be as excited for the Apple device as their western counterparts have been in the past. According to the AP, mobile carrier Unicom managed to sell only 5,000 iPhones on the first day.
There are a couple of possible explanations of why sales are relatively low. First of all, the first batch of these phones are crippled as they come without any Wi-Fi capability. The proposed iPhone hardware with Wi-Fi was temporarily banned by Beijing (who was in favor of a rival Chinese system), but the ban was relaxed in May. By that time, however, manufacturing had already begun for the China-bound iPhones.
Unicom is now working with Apple to bring back Wi-Fi in future shipments and hopes to have things solved by the end of this year.
Secondly, those who are interested in the iPhone have been able to purchase them from grey market importer stores for around the same price as offered through the carrier. What's more, those imported phones come with Wi-Fi intact.
What will be a better gauge of consumer interest, should it ever happen, is when the China will be able to launch a future iPhone model alongside most other major markets. Maybe for the 4G, eh?