More than two million Apple iPhone 5s were sold in the first weekend the product was officially available on the mainland, the world's largest market for smartphones.
That result compared favourably with the more than five million units sold by the technology giant from September 21 to 23, the weekend the device debuted in Hong Kong, the United States, Australia, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Japan and Singapore.
Apple chief executive Tim Cook said yesterday that demand for the iPhone 5 on the mainland, where it was introduced last Friday, "has been incredible, setting a new record with the best first weekend sales ever" for an iPhone model in that market.
This was the first time the highly secretive company announced its initial iPhone sales figures for mainland China. "China is a very important market for us, and customers there cannot wait to get their hands on Apple products," Cook said.
The mainland, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macau comprise Apple's second-biggest market after the US. "Initial pre-orders seemed strong with China Unicom, which reported that it received more than 300,000 pre-orders last week for the iPhone 5," said Lisa Soh, an analyst at Macquarie Capital Securities.
"That compares with the 200,000 pre-orders in five days for the iPhone 4S in January."
Soh projected last week that combined sales of the iPhone 5 by Unicom and China Telecom, Apple's two mainland carrier-partners, would be fewer than one million units from Friday until the end of this year.
Apple's announcement yesterday showed that the iPhone 5 had performed better on the mainland than recent media and analysts' reports had suggested.
These reports pointed out that mainland consumers' interest in the iPhone 5 seemed muted compared with previous iPhone releases in the market. Soh said that, for example, a check in Shanghai during the iPhone 5's launch last Friday showed that there were no queues in the city's Apple-branded retail stores and short lines at the retail outlets of China Telecom and Unicom.
James Yan, a senior market analyst at technology research firm IDC, said total smartphone shipments on the mainland were forecast to reach a record of 67 million units this quarter, a 10.2 per cent increase from 61 million in the third quarter.
Samsung is expected to remain the mainland's top smartphone brand this quarter and for the full year.
Lenovo, Coolpad-maker Yulong Computer Telecommunication Scientific (Shenzhen), ZTE and Huawei Technologies round out the market's top five suppliers of smartphones.