Apple launched the iPhone 5 in China on Friday and, despite speculation that the device got a lukewarm greeting on arrival, Apple has announced that it sold “more than 2 million” units over the opening weekend.
That sets a new record for the company in China, as CEO Tim Cook explained in a canned comment that accompanied the announcement:
“Customer response to iPhone 5 in China has been incredible, setting a new record with the best first weekend sales ever in China. China is a very important market for us and customers there cannot wait to get their hands on Apple products.”
The fact that this is a record is significant since it goes against a common perception that Apple is losing market- and mind-share there. Android-powered devices are eating up the growing smartphone market — with one analyst firm pegging Android at 90 percent market share — but the rapid-fire iPhone 5 sales show Apple retains a core audience in China.
There is, however, still no doubt that the company has untapped potential in the country, and a much-speculated partnership with China Mobile — the world’s largest carrier with more than 700 million customers — would massively broaden its reach.
Lead-up to the phone’s arrival — which comes some three months after it premiered worldwide — saw signs of strong interest in the country as operator China Unicom racked up 300,000 reservations (not pre-orders) of the phone, indeed it saw 100,000 customers sign-up to buy the phone after just one day.