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Summary:

News footage outside of Apple Stores in China on Friday showed very small or non-existant lines and some investors assumed the worst. But it turned out that those early reports didn’t indicate lack of demand at all. Instead, Apple had its biggest China launch weekend yet.

Sanlitun Apple Store, Beijing, China

Despite some investor handwringing on Friday, Apple ended up having a record-breaking weekend in China. The company announced it sold 2 million iPhone 5s in China between Friday and Sunday, by far the biggest launch of one of Apple’s devices there.

After some analyst reports indicated on Friday that perhaps the iPhone 5 wouldn’t be as successful in China as the iPhone 4S, coupled with video footage of the opening day lines outside of Apple Stores on Friday — which were very small or non-existant — some investors panicked, and sent Apple’s stock tumbling. But it turned out that those early reports didn’t indicate lack of interest at all. Instead, Apple’s reservation system and its two carrier partners in the country, China Telecom and China Unicom, brought it a big first weekend.

Two million might sound low for a country with China’s population. It is less than half of the number of iPhone 5 units Apple sold in the U.S. plus eight other countries in its opening weekend in September, for instance. But besides Apple devices being much more expensive in China, 3G isn’t as widely available to subscribers, and the iPhone is not the first or even the second-most popular phone model in China. Rather, Apple is competing with entrenched local brands making inexpensive devices that run Android.

China is huge for Apple — CEO Tim Cook calls it one of Apple’s most important markets in the world. So even if the company has a long way to go to eat into Android device sales in the country, it should be encouraging for Apple (and its investors) that this launch of the iPhone in the country is larger than the last.

This post was updated at 6:39 a.m. PT to correct the number of countries where the iPhone 5’s September launch sales data came from.

  1. err you messed up the numbers there.
    Apple sold 5 mil units in US, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore and the UK not just in the US and it was only 5 mil because they didn’t had more,now there are no shortages.
    The China numbers look good but it depends on how much of that is inventory in the channel.They need some 1.5 mil units in the channel total (all 3 models).

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    1. Thanks for noting that. I’ve updated the post.

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      1. no problem
        I also messed up a bit,the inventory they need in China is more than 1.5 mil.Entering Q1 they could aim form 2.5.

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  2. “No need to panic” … “it should be encouraging for Apple (and its investors)” … That’s Apple’s problem now. Everyone’s a lot more interested in their profits than their products.

    Apple: small low res screens, expensive phones with “100 new features” all found on Android gingerbread. Profits are a trailing indicator. Get out now before AAPL slides any further.

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    1. Small low res screens.. the Retina Display is the #2 display only to the HTC One X.. might want to check your facts… and fyi anyone on the Exchange are concerned about stock prices.. and Android is great as long as you dont mine a half assed software that you have to reboot 2-3 times a day…

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      1. HTC Droid DNA has 440 ppi. It also demolishes the iPhone5 in pretty much every respect. As for half assed software, see Apple Maps.

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    2. and when normal user wants to update said android, or integrate said android phone on their computer, or purchase music for their existing iPod, guess what? Damn.

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