Investors thought that they had seen the worst of Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL ) when the third-generation iPad arrived in China. While the device drew modest crowds and plenty of stock in America, Chinese consumers failed to deliver the same level of excitement. In fact, no more than 30 people waited in line to buy the new iPad when it was released in China last July. This morning Apple achieved a new record-low for iDevice attendance. While the iPhone 5 delivered sizeable crowds throughout the United States, it was not nearly as successful overseas.
According to Reuters , only one person waited outside of the Apple Store in Shanghai. Another report found that just two customers showed up at Apple's flagship store at an upscale shopping district in Beijing.
As embarrassing as this may be for a company that specializes in creating long lines for its products, the lack of enthusiasm may not hurt Apple's success. Contrary to the weak number of early adopters, Apple actually led the Chinese tablet market during the last quarter. The Cupertino, California-based tech giant sold an estimated 1.8 million units, accounting for more than 70 percent of the market. Samsung -- Apple's strongest rival in the smartphone space -- sold roughly 91,000 tablets, or 3.5 percent of the market.
Apple does not command a similar lead in the smartphone space. In fact, the company is expected to lose ground to Nokia (NYSE: NOK ), which signed a lucrative deal with China Mobile, the nation's largest mobile carrier. Shares of Nokia rose nearly 13 percent as a result of the deal. The Espoo, Finland-based mobile phone manufacturer has climbed more than 40 percent over the last month. During the same period, Apple declined by more than one percent. The company has lost more than 23 percent of its value since September 14 and is dangerously close to falling below $500.
Nokia is not the only threat to Apple's throne, however. The iPhone maker also faces stiff competition from local Chinese companies, such as Lenovo and Coolpad. According to Reuters, Research In Motion (NASDAQ: RIMM ) is expected to strike a deal with China Mobile that would allow the company to sell BlackBerry 10 handsets to millions of Chinese consumers. The BlackBerry maker has gained more than 63 percent over the last 30 days.
While the Chinese market may be a lost cause (for now), Apple is expected to grow elsewhere when it brings the iPhone to T-Mobile next year. It is not yet known if Apple will port the existing iPhone 5 or wait until a proper upgrade is ready for release.
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