China Braces for This Apple Storm

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A day after receiving all necessary network clearances from the government, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) announced on Friday that the iPhone 5 will debut in China on December 14. The Wi-Fi version of the iPad mini and the fourth-generation iPad, meanwhile, will arrive in the company’s fastest growing market a week earlier, on December 7.

What Sparked Apple’s Launch Decision?

China’s Telecommunication Equipment Certification Center had announced on Thursday that it had approved an Apple phone for a network-access license. Approvals came through for the WCDMA and CDMA-2000 variants of the iPhone 5, which are compatible with the networks of China Unicom (NYSE:CHU) and China Telecom (NYSE:CHA). A TD-SCDMA model of the phone 5, which would be compatible with China Mobile (NYSE:CHL), is not yet available.

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The iPhone 4S, which was launched in China about three months after its U.S. release, was a big hit in the country. Meanwhile, the iPhone 5 has been on sale in Hong Kong since September and sales have been very encouraging. The iPad mini and the fourth-generation iPad are currently available in 42 countries, while the iPhone 5 has launched in 47 countries.

What Could the News Mean for Apple Stock?

China contributed $23.8 billion, or 15 percent, to Apple’s 2012 fiscal year revenue, which was up 78 percent from the previous year. But the company has seen its dominance of the high-end market slip, with Samsung and other Google (NADAQ:GOOG) Android rivals quickly gaining ground with newer phones. This, then, will bring cheer to Apple watchers. The debut of the new iPads, meanwhile, will likely help Apple keep up its dominant 71 percent share of the country’s growing tablet market.

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