China debut for iPhone 5 hits 2m units in three days

Apple upbeat in wake of stock tumble; hails strong start in second largest market

Tags: Apple IncorporatedChinaUSA
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China debut for iPhone 5 hits 2m units in three days True success in China will require a deal with the country’s top operator China Mobile.
By  Stephen McBride Published  December 17, 2012

Apple Inc announced yesterday that it had sold 2 million iPhone 5s in China since its Friday launch in the most successful China debut yet for an iPhone, Reuters reported.

But the success for Apple in its second biggest market has done little to assuage a catalog of fears about the future of Cupertino Inc, which in August became the most valuable company in history, according to Forbes.

Shares fell a further 3.8% on Friday, even as the China launch was getting underway and Citi Research downgraded Apple stock from "buy" to "neutral". From a summer high of over $700, the iPhone maker's share price sat at $509.79.

Commentators have cited a lack of innovation since the death of Apple founder Steve Jobs; stiffer competition from rivals, evidenced by a loss in market share; and concerns over a looming capital gains impact when the current US rate of 15% is raised to its former level of 23.8% or perhaps even higher in an effort to avoid the so-called "fiscal cliff".

The iPhone 5's September launch in the US and 30 other countries worldwide netted sales of 5 million units in three days, but the China debut of the new handset marks the first time Apple has disclosed sales figures for an iPhone in the Chinese market.

"Customer response to iPhone 5 in China has been incredible, setting a new record with the best first weekend sales ever in China," said Apple chief executive Tim Cook.

Analysts suggest that Apple's success in China will depend upon its ability to reach a commercial agreement with China mobile, which holds the country's largest subscriber base of 700m, although much of these are less affluent users who will be unlikely to adopt an iPhone handset. China Mobile has already reached an agreement with Nokia to distribute its recently launched Windows 8 Phone-powered Lumia range.

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