For the first time, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) customers in China will have access to the latest iPhones on the same day as consumers in North America, Europe, and Japan. Apple’s iPhone 5C and iPhone 5S will launch in those markets Friday at 8 a.m. local time.
This was also the first year that Apple scheduled a separate iPhone premiere event in China, reflecting the market’s increasing importance to the Cupertino, California-based company. Market research firm IDC predicts that smartphone shipments in China will exceed 460 million units by 2017 to reach a market size of $117.8 billion.
Apple’s share of this future market may partly depend on how well its latest devices sell in China over the weekend. Although China has grown to become Apple’s third-largest market, the iPhone maker’s third-quarter revenue in the greater China market fell 14 percent from the same quarter last year, Bloomberg reports.