Apple CEO Tim Cook Says China Q4 Sales Were $5.7B, Up 26% YOY, Flat On Q3; iPhone 5 Coming In December

In Apple’s Q4 earnings call today, Tim Cook today said that Apple had a “fantastic” quarter in Greater China, with revenues at $5.7 billion, up 26% year on year, but actually that revenue was flat on Q3. Still, the year-on-year growth is an important story for it to be telling in a quarter where the company missed expectations on earnings, iPhone sales and iPad sales.

Cook said that the iPhone 5 launch “will happen in December” in China.

Cook also gave some stats on how sales of its wireless products are growing in the country: the company saw iPad sales up 45%, and iPhone was up 38%. For the year, the company had total revenues of $23.8 billion for China, “which is really phenomenal when you think about it,” and more than double what it made in China in 2011. All told, a whopping 15% of Apple’s revenues are currently attributed to sales in the region, which includes Mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan and Macau.

Apple is using its strong retail presence in the country to drive that even further. “We are continuing to invest in our retail stores there and continue to expand with channel partners, [it’s an] extremely exciting market with more and more people wanting Apple products,” he said.

Indeed, retail stores in the region hit a milestone: Apple’s CFO Peter Oppenheimer earlier in the call noted that the second store that it opened in Hong Kong in the quarter has been the biggest store opening of the year for the company anywhere.

Revenues from Asia Pacific overall were $7.537 billion, up 15% on last year, although down 4% on the quarter before.

Asia Pacific remained Apple’s third-biggest region in terms of revenues, although combined with Japan’s $2.367 billion in revenues, all of Asia makes about $10 billion, putting it into second position after the Americas, which was $13.8 billion.

Apple breaks out Mac unit sales and says that they were up 20% on 877,000 units in the region, up 40% on the quarter before. This represented a big recovery on Q3, when it sold 593,000 units.

China has long been a major growth driver for the company in its international revenues. As a point of comparison, in the Q3 revenues for China were $5.7 billion, up 48% on the same period a year before; in the quarter before that, Apple’s “mind boggling” revenue in that quarter was $7.9 billion, up threefold year-over-year. In 2011 the company made $13.3 billion in China.

But it has also been the source of some of Apple’s most negative publicity, specifically around the production of its highly sought after devices.

That pressure to produce is likely set to continue. Tim Cook today mentioned on the earnings call today that Apple was seeing “a significant state of backlog right now” in terms of iPhone 5 production, and the “largest volume ramp in Apple’s history.”

And although the iPhone has had a strong run in China, in the last quarter, it actually saw its share of the smartphone market in the country halved as people hung back waiting for the newest iPhone, which was only launched in September and has not yet launched in China. It has not been helped, either, by the fact that there are so many cheap Android devices hitting the market, too.

[Photo via Flickr/kwramm]