Apple has just announced the official release date of the iPad mini, 4th generation iPad and iPhone 5 in China. The tablets will go on sale next Friday, December 7 in that country, and the iPhone 5 will arrive on December 14, a week afterwards. This comes following news that the iPhone 5 has met all the regulatory requirements in China it needed to go on sale.
Apple CEO Tim Cook had said that the iPhone 5 would go on sale in China in December during Apple’s most recent quarterly conference call, and that statement was recently backed up by the chairman of China Telecom. Apple doesn’t specify which networks the iPhone 5 will be available on in China, but the phone is cleared for sale on both China Telecom and China Unicom’s networks. Apple will sell the iPhone in China through its online store, official retail stores and select authorized channel partners. The iPad mini will likewise be sold through the same outlets, and both devices can be reserved in advance. Reservations for the iPad mini and 4th gen iPad begin December 6.
Apple mentions only Wi-Fi versions of the iPad mini and fourth-generation iPad in its release, so it looks like the cellular-enabled versions of Apple’s tablet won’t be available at launch. Earlier reports had indeed pegged the iPad mini for a December launch in China, and had also cautioned that the cellular version likely wouldn’t arrive at the same time.
Launches of Apple products in China have taken on growing importance for Apple, which continues to see impressive growth in its Greater China market sales. iPhone sales were up 38 percent in China last quarter year over year, but there could be a tremendous amount of pent-up demand for a new model, according to an analyst report from late summer. Many will be watching these launches to see just how strong the appetite is for Apple devices in the increasingly important Chinese market.