Apple said it sold more than two million iPhone 5 smartphones in China since its Friday launch, beating company records for first weekend sales in the country.
The statement late Sunday from Apple appears to be the first time the company has addressed weekend sales for the Chinese market, although it reports on sales in the country during quarterly earnings calls, analysts said. Apple did not for example release sales data after its launch of the iPad mini and fourth-generation iPad earlier this month.
In the statement, Apple CEO Tim Cook said customer response in China to the iPhone 5 had been "incredible" and noted that the country was an important market for the company.
The sales statement was released after Apple's stock slid down by 20 points through last week. Some analysts have been pessimistic on iPhone 5 sales in China, and pointed to its high price and competition as factors that could temper consumer response.
Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Early turnout for the iPhone 5 launch at one Apple store in Beijing was also low, with only two people standing in line before the store opened at 8 a.m. But in China, Apple has switched to a reservation system to sell its iPhone 5 in order to prevent long lines and untoward incidents from restless customers.
Teck Zhung Wong, an analyst with research firm IDC, questioned why Apple released the sales figures, when the company previously was mum on its weekend launches in China.
"Why are they saying this now, when they didn't say this for the iPhone 4s or iPhone 4? Maybe they want to keep the brand alive," he said. Apple probably wanted to highlight some positive news in China, given the company's declining market share in the country, he added.
In the third quarter, Apple fell out of the ranking for China's top five largest smartphone vendors, according to IDC. Samsung remained number one, followed by four Chinese companies including Lenovo, Coolpad, ZTE and Huawei.
Smartphone sales are booming in China, so any sales increase is to be expected, Wong said. In the third quarter, handset vendors shipped a record high of over 60 million smartphones in the Chinese market, a quarter-over-quarter growth of 38 percent.
"I'm not sure how this (announcement) will affect Apple's stock price, but they need some positive news," he added.
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