iPhone 5 Arrives In China

By Khurram Aziz | Dec 14, 2012 12:53 PM EST

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Apple's iPhone 5 smartphone is now available in the world's biggest mobile phone market - China.

The device has officially gone on sale in the country with customers able to buy it from the Apple Online Store, via select Apple resellers and through Apple's flagship retail outlets.

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China is the last big market to receive Apple's latest smartphone offering after regulators there only approved the device in November.

The 3G/GSM version of the iPhone 5 will be available on China Unicom's network, the second largest in the country; and a CDMA version is coming to China Telecom's network, the country's third largest network.

Apple has missed out on a deal with China Mobile, the country's state-owned largest cellular network with more than 700 million subscribers. But despite this, China remains Apple's second-largest and fastest-growing market, bringing in around 15 percent of the company's global revenue.

In Q4 earning conference call Apple's CEO Tim Cook said that Apple generated $23.8 billion in China, up by $10 billion year-on-year, representing a 78 percent rise from the same quarter a year ago.

However, early media reports indicate a muted reception for Apple's flagship smartphone in China.

Only two people are said to have been waiting in line in Beijing to buy the iPhone 5, according Computer World.

Compare that to the launch of the iPhone 4S in January, where a delay in the opening of the Sanlitun store sparked a near-riot that led Apple to temporarily suspend sales of the device in its stores across the country. Those scenes followed a fight between customers and Sanlitun store employees in May 2011 that broke out as Apple was releasing the white version of the iPhone 4.

But that doesn't mean that there is less demand for the product in the country. Apple has instituted a new policy for selling its devices in China, which forces customers to place orders online before they are given a time window in which they can pick-up the handsets at physical stores.

Apple has also opened more stores in the country, smoothing out the retail process.

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