Apple has announced its three star iOS products of 2012, the iPhone 5, fourth generation iPad, and the iPad Mini, will go on sale in China in December. The news confirms China Unicom’s promise to stock the phone within three months of its launch, but like most Apple-related deadlines this year, it’s right on the cusp; as the iPhone 5 went on sale for the first time on September 21, and it’ll arrive in China on December 14.
For the iPhone 5 to launch in China it had to be approved by the regulator, a test which it passed earlier this week, according to a Wall Street Journal report that also says it has been given the green light for both China Mobile and China Unicom, the country’s number one and number two wireless networks. Research shows that the two mobile giants are battling it out for 3G subscribers, with numbers faltering over the past months as potential buyers wait for news on the iPhone 5. A teardown revealed the iPhone 5 was compatible with China Mobile’s proprietary TD-SCDMA network shortly after its release, fueling anticipation.
Everyone will be hoping the anticipation doesn’t reach the fever pitch it did when the iPhone 4S went on sale with China Unicom at the beginning of the year, when angry customers attacked stores with eggs as stock ran out. There were also complaints of scalpers bulk buying iPhones and then selling them on the street at inflated prices, prompting Apple to enforce a limit as to how many devices a single person could buy.
Wi-Fi-only iPad and iPad Mini join the iPhone 5
Initially, the iPhone 5 will only be sold through Apple retail stores, Apple’s online store and authorized Apple resellers. While most of the attention will focus on the arrival of the iPhone 5, the iPad Mini and iPad 4 will also be released, but solely as Wi-Fi versions. No mention is made of the cellular models in Apple’s press release, and like the iPhone 5, they’ll be sold only through Apple’s stores and its resellers.
Apple’s press release lets out a choice piece of information too, saying the iPhone 5 is now on sale in 47 countries around the world. In mid-October, it was available in 31 countries, showing just how severe Apple’s stock shortage has been. Apple has publicly stated it was going to have the iPhone 5 in 100 countries before the end of the year. If it continues at the rate of adding 16 countries every four weeks, it won’t be reaching its goal.
The iPhone 5 also went on sale as a SIM-free, unlocked device through Apple’s online store in the U.S. today, with a shipping time of one week. Perhaps Apple has sorted out its production problems just in time for its Chinese debut.