Sales of Apple's latest tablets kick off December 7 in China, with the iPhone following December 14.
iPad Mini Tablet: Visual Tour
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Apple today announced that it plans to make the iPhone 5, iPad Mini, and fourth-generation iPad with Retina display available to Chinese consumers beginning next week. Features and pricing of the smartphone and tablets are in line with what is offered in other markets. In the U.S., the iPhone 5 can be purchased for as little as $199 with a new contract. The iPad Mini starts at $329 and the fourth-gen iPad starts at $499.
The Wi-Fi variants of the iPad Mini and fourth-gen iPad will go on sale first. They can be ordered directly from Apple's website beginning Friday, December 7. According to Apple, the devices can be picked up from official Apple retail stores only if they are first reserved by consumers. Apple will begin accepting in-store reservations daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. beginning Thursday, December 6, for pick up the following day.
Apple has run into trouble at its retail stores on previous product launch days in China, which is probably why it has set up this reservation system. Earlier this year, an angry mob threw eggs at Apple's flagship store in Beijing when the iPhone 4S went on sale. Apple later decided the iPhone 4S would be available for purchase in China only through its website.
Apple did not say if or when the 3G/4G variants of its iPads will go on sale in China. In order to sell cellular-equipped versions, Apple would need to obtain regulatory approval from China.
The iPhone 5 will follow the iPad and iPad Mini on December 14, and Apple will use the same procedures for selling it. It can be ordered online from Apple starting December 14, or reserved in stores for next-day pick up beginning December 13.
The iPhone 5 was given a Network Access License by China's Telecommunication Equipment Certification Center earlier this week.
According to Apple, the iPad Mini and the fourth-gen iPad with Retina display are available in 42 countries, and iPhone 5 is available in 47 countries, including the U.S., Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan and the UK.
Licensed Apple resellers will also be selling the iPhone 5 and new iPads.
Earlier versions of the iPad have proven popular sellers in China. According to Analysis International, Apple's iPad holds a commanding 71.42% of the Chinese tablet market. The next closest vendor is Lenovo, with 10.52%. Lenovo is followed by Eben, with 3.61%; Samsung, with 3.53%; Acer, with 3.03%; and Asus, with 1.74%.
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