Here’s an early Christmas present for Apple: the company announced Friday morning that it will begin selling the latest iPad, iPad mini and the iPhone 5 in China in early December. The fourth-generation iPad and iPad mini go on sale on Dec. 7, while the iPhone 5 hits a week later, on Dec. 14. China is one of the fastest-growing markets for Apple’s devices and sales of these new tablets and smartphone should provide a nice boost to the overall holiday season sales.
Fair warning though: the new iPads, large and small, are strictly Wi-Fi only — no cellular option yet. The iPhone 5 just this week received regulatory approval to operate on two carriers’ networks in China, China Telecom and China Unicom.
For Apple, the iPhone 5 represents its most rapid rollout yet, and has demonstrated the might of its supply chain and operations. The availability of the phone was severely impacted after the initial launch, but Apple’s supply has just recently caught up with demand. With China, the new phone will be available in 47 countries in less than three months after release. Apple’s stated goal in September was 100 countries by the end of the year.
The iPad mini and new iPad aren’t far behind: by the end of next week it will be in 42 countries after about five weeks.
Getting the devices on store shelves in China, though, is an important milestone. China already is the region with fastest growing uptake of new devices running iOS and Android in the world, and by early next year should pass the U.S. for largest total number of active iOS and Android devices.