Apple hails “record” first weekend of China iPhone sales despite competition concerns

17 DEC 2012

Apple clocked up over 2 million new iPhone sales in China in three days after the latest version of the iconic smartphone went on sale in the world’s largest mobile market on Friday.

Apple revealed the number in a statement last night, marking the first time it has published official China sales figures for the iPhone.

Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, described the first weekend’s performance as “the best first weekend sales ever in China.”

The iPhone 5 originally debuted in September in the US and 30 other countries in September, selling more than 5 million units in its first weekend. The device will have launched in 100 markets by year-end, making it “the fastest iPhone rollout ever” according to Apple.

The device was launched in China by operators China Unicom and China Telecom, but not via the market leader China Mobile – which some are concerned could limit sales.

While China Unicom and China Telecom use internationally-adopted technologies (GSM/WCDMA and CDMA), China Mobile uses the home grown TD-SCDMA 3G standard, which is not supported by the Apple product.

As well as the China Mobile issues, analysts are also concerned that Apple may struggle in a smartphone market dominated by cheap Android devices.

According to Reuters, Apple’s shares fell 3.8 percent on Friday to US$509.79 after the iPhone 5’s China debut, while Citi Research downgraded Apple’s stock late on Sunday to ‘neutral’ from ‘buy’ and lowered Apple’s price target to US$575 from US$675, citing diminishing hype around the iPhone 5 and improving competition in smartphones.