Everywhere you look – maybe even in your own hands – you see some kind of teched-out cell phone. Now China will soon have the opportunity to distract itself with such smartphone devices as telecommunications companies, as well as related exchange traded funds (ETFs), benefit from an untapped consumer base.

China Unicom, the China’s second-largest carrier with 140 million subscribers, announced a three-year agreement to sell Apple’s (APPL) iPhone, which could make China’s markets account for 15% to 20% of global iPhone sales next year, writes Gregg Keizzer for ComputerWorld. Apple will face competition in China from other smartphone name brands such as Google’s (GOOG) Android operation system and BlackBerry devices from Research in Motion (RIMM).

The launch of the iPhone is slated for the fourth quarter of this year, but it is still unclear as to what model of the iPhone China Unicom will be offering, according to ComputerWorld. The device also does not list Wi-Fi as a feature, since China did not approve the use of Wi-Fi mobile phones until this year.

Right after China Unicom’s announcement with Apple, China Mobile exhibited its “Ophones” from Dell (DELL), HTC, and Lenovo, reports Martin Perez for InformationWeek. China Mobile, the largest carrier in China, has around 500 million subscribers.

The Ophones will have carrier-specific applications that deliver news, e-mail and other services and the increase sales of smartphones are expected to ease the transition of China’s adoption of a Mobile 3G service.

  • WisdomTree International Communications (DGG): up 2.4% year-to-date; China Mobile Ltd. is 5.7%, China Unicom is 4.1%


  • iShares S&P Global Telecommunications (IXP): up 3.5% year-to-date; China Mobile Ltd. is 4.9%


For more information on telecoms, visit our telecommunications category.

Max Chen contributed to this article.

The opinions and forecasts expressed herein are solely those of Tom Lydon, and may not actually come to pass. Information on this site should not be used or construed as an offer to sell, a solicitation of an offer to buy, or a recommendation for any product.