Apple’s iPhone 5s has been in the United States for a few months, and now that supply has met demand, the company is gearing up to launch the device in many countries around the world. One of the countries set to receive the iPhone this week is China, which is now one of Apple’s biggest markets after the United States.
On Tuesday, a report from The Wall Street Journal revealed that Foxconn has shipped nearly 1.5 million iPhone 5s units to China Mobile, ahead of the official release in China. China Mobile has been taking pre-orders for the iPhone 5s since late last year and will officially start selling it on Friday, January 17, 2014.
Apple announced in late December that it had struck a deal with China Mobile—the largest carrier in the world at over 700 million subscribers—and mentioned the official release date of the 17th then, too. The WSJ source did note that it is “substantial” for one carrier to receive so many units of the iPhone, but it is likely because demand is expected to be high and the next shipment date remains unknown. Apple is receiving stiff competition from other local smartphone manufacturers.
Apple has expanded the international availability of the iPhone since the launch of the iPhone 3G, though this is likely one of the biggest launches yet. Apple’s deal with China Mobile and the launch in late January is very smart, especially with the U.S market becoming overly saturated and China quickly becoming one of the company’s fastest growing markets.