Does China Get Dibs on the iPhone 5S?

Source: Apple.comAlthough Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and its carrier partners began taking pre-orders for the iPhone 5C soon after midnight PT on Friday, U.S. customers who wanted to reserve an iPhone 5S were out of luck. However, it appears that Apple’s Chinese customers will get the iPhone 5S pre-order option that was denied to customers in the U.S. and other markets.

As first reported by MacTrast, Apple’s Hong Kong Apple Retail website is offering iPhone 5S reservations beginning on September 17. Although Apple’s Hong Kong website also notes that, “Supplies may be limited and are available on a first-come, first-served basis,” the reservation option still gives Apple’s Chinese customers a better chance of picking up an iPhone 5S on  September 20 than customers in other markets.

Customers in Canada, Europe, the U.S., and the U.K. will have to fight the crowds to get their hands on an iPhone 5S when the device officially launches on September 20. So why is Apple offering an iPhone 5S pre-order option for China and not for the rest of the world? While it is possible that this policy may simply be an indication of the increasing importance of this emerging market, it may also be related to the “gray market” that typically springs up around every iPhone launch in China.