Chinese Buy 2 Million iPhone 5 Handsets In Debut Weekend Of Sale

By Khurram Aziz | Dec 17, 2012 10:43 AM EST

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Predictions of a frosty reception in China for the iPhone seem totally misplaced as Apple reported 2 million units of its flagship smartphone were sold in the country in three days.

The device only hit the Chinese market on December 14 but has already sold a record number in the world's largest mobile phone market.

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"Customer response to iPhone 5 in China has been incredible, setting a new record with the best first weekend sales ever in China," said Tim Cook, Apple's CEO. "China is a very important market for us and customers there cannot wait to get their hands on Apple products."

Analysts initially predicted a muted response to Apple's device, with few Chinese braving the snowy weather to get their hands on the device. That was in marked contrast 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.

However, it seems the lack of queues outside Apple's stores in China was mainly due to a much smoother rollout strategy, which forced customers to place orders online before they were given a time window in which they could pick-up the handsets at physical stores.

The phone is available on China Unicom's network, the second largest in the country and on China Telecom's network, the country's third largest network. However, the device is absent from China Mobile, the largest carrier in China with nearly 700 million subscribers and a 65 percent market share. Analysts expect Apple to strike a deal with the carrier by late 2013.

Apple launched the iPhone 5 on Sept. 21 in nine countries and territories, including the U.S, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, and the UK. At the time it recorded 5 million sales of the handset in the first three days.

However, the strong sales of the iPhone 5 in China haven't prevented shares of Apple slipping to their lowest position since February.

A Reuters report sites shares of the Cupertino-company slipping to $497.98, below a major threshold of $500. Overall shares of the company have fallen 30 percent in the last three months losing 3.8 percent on Friday, Dec. 14, alone.

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