China Unicom announced that it received orders for more than 100,000 iPhone 5s on its first day of pre-sales, according to a report on Sina Tech. A subsidiary of rival wireless operator China Telecom said that it had received pre-orders for more than 5,000 units.
The lag between the iPhone 5’s U.S. and China release dates was thanks to the wait for final regulatory approval from China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.
Apple announced last week that the iPhone 5 will be available in China (and 50 other countries, including Brazil, Russia and Taiwan) on December 14. The iPhone 5 has been available in 47 countries, including the U.S., UK, Hong Kong, Japan and Singapore, since September 21.
While this is the quickest rollout of an iPhone to date, the long wait for Apple products has turned off many Chinese consumers. China received the iPhone 4S on January 13, three months after the U.S. In August, research group IDC estimated that Apple’s share of China’s smartphone market was cut in half during the second quarter to 10 percent, as customers turned to devices made by competitors like Chinese company Lenovo, which some analysts believe will take the No. 1 smartphone slot in China next year. Lenovo’s products, including the Android-powered LePhone, benefits from strong brand recognition, nationwide availability, and affordable pricing aimed at the mid-to-lower end of the market.
But the company remains upbeat about its opportunities in the Chinese market. During Apple’s Q4 earnings call, Tim Cook said revenue for the full fiscal year was $23.8 billion for China, an increase of $10 billion year-on-year, and that sales of the iPhone in Greater China (i.e. China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan) had climbed 38 percent.