iPhone goes on sale in China

But high price and lack of wi-fi capability expected to stunt launch sales

The iPhone formally went on sale in China today following a series of delays caused by government regulations and alleged problems with operator deals.

However, the phone continued to be blighted upon launch, with complaints surfacing about its high price – CNY 6999 (USD 1024 / GBP 621) for the high end 3GS 32GB model without a service plan – which compares unfavourably to those of imported iPhones sold at unofficial outlets.

The handset also lacks wi-fi functionality, which was left out after the government temporarily banned it. The ban was subsequently reversed in May, but was too late for manufacture of the wi-fi free iPhones bound for the Chinese market to be halted.

Sales could be further affected by the fact Apple has signed up with China's second biggest mobile provider, and not the country's largest. China Unicom, which was awarded the contract, boasts an impressive 143 million mobile contracts, however it's still a figure significantly lower than the leading China Mobile's 508 million customers.

A Unicom spokesperson, Yi Difei, told the Associated Press the company hopes to have wi-fi included in the next batch of phones.

"We are talking with Apple and expect the problem to be solved by the end of the year," he said.

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