iPhone 4 Selling Out in China

iPhone 4 demand in China
(Image courtesy of The Wall Street Journal)

Stop us if you’ve heard this one before: Apple releases a new iPhone model and the demand almost immediately overwhelms the actual supply. This time, however, the location isn’t the U.S. but rather China, where the device went on sale over the weekend and crowds swarmed in to get one.

The Wall Street Journal is reporting on what looks to be a boffo iPhone 4 launch in China, particularly when compared to last year’s initial launch of the iPhone 3GS sans Wi-Fi. Carrier China Unicom appears to have quickly sold out of their initial shipment of iPhone 4 units, but says that more are on the way soon.

Saturday marked the official launch of the new handset, and China Unicom had received more than 200,000 iPhone 4 preorders prior to launch, with another 40,000 customers coming out on launch day to get the device and a bundled service plan. It took China Unicom six weeks to sell only 100,000 handsets after the previous model launched last October.

The iPhone is exclusive to China Unicom, who could use the leg up to fend off competitors China Mobile Ltd. and China Telecom Corp. as the trio rush to beef up their 3G subscriber base — and the more expensive devices and data plans required to use the service.

Apple claims that more iPhone 4 units are on the way to Chinese customers, especially as the company narrows the gap between release dates internationally. It took Apple 28 months to introduce an iPhone in China after the original debuted in the U.S. in 2007, but the iPhone 4 arrives only three months after its introduction here — and only five months for the newer iPad, which went on sale in China earlier this month.

The iPhone 4 launch also capitalized on the opening of two new Apple Stores in the country, and plans to ramp up to 25 such stores by the end of 2011.

Follow this article’s author, J.R. Bookwalter on Twitter


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