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Thursday, August 27, 2009, 12:55 pm PT (03:55 pm ET)

China Unicom, Apple deal could be announced Friday - report

The on again, off again rumors of an imminent iPhone launch for carrier China Unicom are back once more, this time with reports suggesting talks between Apple and the Chinese provider are nearing an end.

While the Wall Street Journal noted that talks between Apple and China Unicom are believed to be "nearing conclusion," Reuters, in a story Thursday, states that a deal could be announced as soon as Friday.

China Unicom is set to hold a media briefing Friday to discuss its financial results for the first half of 2009. A China Unicom spokeswoman said the iPhone "would undoubtedly be discussed," according to Retuers.

"Apple's iPhone manufacturing partner Hon Hai is making the iconic handset for a Chinese company, an official at the Taiwanese firm said, declining to be named as he was not authorised to speak to the media," the report states.

The core of the news and speculation has always remained the same: Apple and China Unicom are in talks to have the wireless carrier become the exclusive provider of the iPhone in China. The problem is, many reports out of the nation of over one billion have alleged that a deal was finalized, only for the reports to be denied on numerous occasions.

What can be said with certainty is a new model of the iPhone without Wi-Fi was given government regulatory approval for use on the China Unicom network in July. That device is a GSM/WCDMA iPhone that operates on the 900MHz, 1700MHz and 1900MHz bands. Apple executive Tim Cook has made it clear that his company intends to sell the iPhone in China within a year.