Long Lines Form at Apple’s China Stores for iPhone 4S

Overnight in China, long lines formed for the launch of Apple’s iPhone 4S at Apple’s five stores, two on Beijing and three in Shanghai, according to Tech in Asia.

Apple’s partner China Unicom, ranked as the world’s third-biggest mobile provider, announced that the iPhone 4S would go on sale at 12:01 AM Friday morning. (As of this writing, it is about 3 AM Friday morning in Beijing.)

Asia Tech’s Steven Millward reported that most of the stores have a ticketing system to deter customers from jumping positions in line.

If customers pay the equivalent of US$45/month, they can get a 16 GB iPhone 4S free if they sign up for a long-term contract, thus explaining the very long lines.

China Unicom is the only Chinese company currently offering the Apple iPhone — which uses WCDMA. The iPhone popularity has helped China Unicom, with well over 100 million customers, steal business away from the 3rd place, China Telecom.

Apple is also in negotiations with China Telecom and China Mobile, China’s largest wireless company, and the largest in the world. As TMO recently reported, China Mobile “has demanded a piece of App Store sales in exchange for selling the iPhone. Apple has refused to agree to such terms, putting the talks in a stalemate.” Meanwhile, China Unicom rolls on with the iPhone.