Apple announced today that the Wi-Fi and cellular versions of the iPad mini and the fourth-generation iPad with Retina display will be available in China this Friday. iPad mini and the fourth-gen iPad are currently available in more than 100 countries, including China, the U.S., Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan and the U.K.
The launch makes good on Tim Cook’s statement in a January 10 interview with Chinese news out Tencent QQ (link via Google Translate) that the cellular model of the iPad mini would be available in China by late January. The Cupertino-based company’s last rollout in that country was just one month ago, when the iPad mini and fourth-gen iPad arrived on December 7, and the iPhone 5 on December 14. Reports surfaced that early turnout of buyers at Apple stores for the iPad mini was low immediately after its debut in China, but that could have been because of the reservation system set up by the company after a near riot by customers who had waited overnight in front of the Beijing Apple store for the iPhone 4S.
Apple’s China product launches have become increasingly important as it looks toward that country becoming its most important market in the “not too distant future,” as Cook told Chinese news site Sina during his visit to the country last week. Though Chinese consumers had to wait two months for a Wi-Fi and cellular iPad mini or fourth-gen iPad, Cook has focused on speeding up the rollout of Apple products in China, a task that involves overcoming regulatory hurdles and hashing out a deal with China Mobile, the country’s largest carrier.