Did This Chinese Carrier Reveal Apple’s Surprise Announcement?

ChinaWhen Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) sent out invitations for a separate iPhone media event to be held in Beijing on September 11, many observers wondered what kind of surprise the Cupertino-based company was planning. After all, this will be the first iPhone media event that Apple has hosted in China.

However, the mystery appears to have been solved thanks to a message that was accidentally posted by one of Apple’s carrier partners in China. According to TechWeb via TechinAsia, China Telecom (NYSE:CHA) inadvertently posted a message to the social media site Weibo on Thursday that revealed Apple will be launching its new iPhones in China earlier than was originally expected.

Alert Chinese readers were able to take screenshots of the message before it was removed from China Telecom’s account. According to TechinAsia, the message read, “China has been chosen as [the] first country where the iPhone 5S/5C will be shipped! Weibo preorder time! If you want to be one of the people who gets a handset on day one, click. Those who successfully preorder will also enjoy a high-end gift bag.”

The report notes that an ambiguity in the language makes it unclear if China will be the first country to receive the iPhone or if it is just one of a group of countries that will receive the iPhone all at the same time. However, the latter option seems the most likely since the Beijing iPhone event takes place only one day after the U.S. iPhone premiere. Based on previous release schedules, most observers predict that the new iPhones will hit U.S. store shelves on September 20.

Chinese iPhone customers typically have to wait approximately two months after the devices are released in the U.S. Sources cited in recent report from China’s First Financial Daily stated that the new iPhones wouldn’t be available in China until November 28. However, this may be Apple’s attempt to raise its profile in what has become an increasingly important market for the Cupertino-based company. It should also be noted that this report doesn’t eliminate the possibility that Apple will still announce a deal with China Mobile (NYSE:CHL). As a rival carrier, China Telecom would not likely mention China Mobile in any product release announcement.

Many analysts expect Apple’s lower-cost iPhone 5C will increase its share of the smartphone market in China. For example, Morgan Stanley analyst Katy Huberty believes the device could boost Apple’s market share by 13 points. Here’s how Apple has traded so far this week.

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