Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL ) stunned investors when it announced that it had sold two million units when the iPhone 5 was released in China. In doing so, the Cupertino, California-based tech giant set a new record for smartphone sales in the nation. It also diminished the reports that, when the iPhone 5 first went on sale, only one person waited in line to buy the new device. This was not an isolated incident. While Apple had previously inspired Chinese consumers to wait in line for new iDevices, they are no longer interested in waiting. When the third-generation iPad was released, only 30 people showed up to buy one. Despite the low turnout, the iPad went on to become the number-one selling tablet in China. During the third quarter, the iPad accounted for more than 70 percent of all tablets in the country.
Weak retailer turnout is not a bad sign in China, however. In fact, Topeka analyst Brian White told AllThingsD that his checks in Hong Kong and China have found that there is "insatiable" demand for the iPad Mini. White's sources have informed him that the iPad Mini is "already more popular than the fourth-generation iPad."
This is not all that surprising. The iPad Mini is a fresh take on the existing iPad format. It is also a little cheaper ($329) than the iPad 4 ($499). And because it is small enough to fit into a purse and can be held with one hand, consumers from all over the world are intrigued by the device.
Supplier estimates indicate that Apple will have shipped before the year's end. This is well below the 30 to 50 million iPhone 5 units that may have been shipped this year. Worldwide, the iPhone will continue to be Apple's bread and butter for quite some time.
In China, however, the iPad Mini might just be the perfect product of its kind. It is cheaper than a full-size iPad and is not much more expensive than the iPod Touch. For these reasons alone, consumers who want an iDevice may be persuaded to go with an iPad Mini.
The iPhone 5 faces a much tougher battle. While it is very popular in China, it must overcome a , including a number of Chinese iPhone clones.
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