China Unicom (NYSE:CHU) began taking pre-orders for the iPhone 5 on Monday ahead of the new Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) smartphone’s official launch in the country on December 14, and the carrier said it made as many as 100,000 reservations on the opening day. Rival China Telecom’s (NYSE:CHA) version will also be available on December 14, the same day that the device goes on sale on Apple’s website.
What Are the Details of Apple’s Big China Launch?
The iPhone 5 was approved by China’s telecom regulators on November 29, two months after Apple first launched the device in nine countries. China Telecom’s iPhone 5, will cost 5,780 yuan, or $928, with a contract, which is 100 yuan cheaper than China Unicom’s price, Market Watch said. Apple’s website, meanwhile, lists a 16 GB version for sale for 5,288 yuan.
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China Unicom, which added 3.2 million new 3G subscribers in October, did not require presale customers to pay upfront for the device, instead using an identity card and telephone number verification system to avoid issues previously seen with large Apple product launches.
Why is China So Important?
China is a key market for Apple because of the pace at which it is growing. The country contributed $23.8 billion, or 15 percent, to Apple’s 2012 fiscal year revenue, which was up 78 percent from the previous year. Both China Unicom and China Telecom reportedly gave up on profits on the iPhone 4 to get contracts with customers. China Mobile (NYSE:CHL), the world’s largest carrier by subscribers, doesn’t have a deal for the iPhone yet with Apple. However, Apple Insider said the company is offering customers the phone’s SIM card, which is smaller than the one found in previous versions of the device. The carrier announced in March that more than 15 million iPhones were in operation on its network. Analysts have pegged a partnership with China Mobile as the next provider of large-scale growth in the country for Apple.
How Will the Development Affect Apple?
Earlier on Monday, Apple announced it would be launching the iPhone 5 in more than 50 countries in a staggered release through December to reach its target of bringing the phone to 100 countries this year. That brought cheer to investors worried about supply concerns, as the company’s willingness to spread the device around the world could only imply that supply shortages were over.
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