Apple is continuing to roll out the iPhone 4 to international markets, and today the company has announced a huge one: the iPhone 4 wil go on sale in China starting September 25. Apple has also announced two new flagship Apple retail stores—one in Beijing and one in Shanghai—will be opening on the same day. The iPhone 4 will be available from Apple retail locations, as well as from retail locations of carrier partner China Unicom.
The September 25 launch of the iphone 4 in China comes just ovee three months after the device went on sale in North America. China represents the world’s largest market for mobile handsets; by reducing the amount of time it takes to bring new iPhone models into the market, Apple cuts down on grey market sales and cannibalization of sales in Hong Kong and other markets as eager Apple fans finagle ways to get iPhones into the country—which usually involved breaking contracts and jailbreaking.
The iPhone 4 launch also follows Apple’s launch of Wi-Fi iPad models in China last week; however, that launch came almost six months after Apple introduced Wi-Fi iPad models in North America.
Some industry watchers note that if Apple wants to succeed in China with the iPhone, it will need to work on making the App Store work well in the Chinese market. Currently, Apple does not offer a Chinese-language version of the App Store, and only quotes App prices in U.S. dollars. As a result, China’s infamous grey market is already raking in profits off the iPhone 4, in part by setting up iTunes accounts using Chinese currency and loading applications for users who can’t (or won’t) pay Apple in U.S. dollars.