This past weekend, the iPhone 4 debuted in China to thousands of Apple fans who couldn’t wait to get their hands on Apple’s new toy, antenna issues be damned. China Unicom, which for now is the exclusive iPhone carrier in China, noted that it had already processed 50,000 iPhone 4 pre-orders leading up to this weekend’s launch. In contrast, China Unicom was only able to sell a couple thousand units of the iPhone 3GS and 3G when the device first arrived last year.
But things are a lot different this time around. MarketWatch reports that China Unicom is having a tough time meeting up with the immense demand for the iPhone 4. By the end of the day on Saturday, the number of iPhone 4 pre-orders skyrocketed to 200,00 while 40,000 individuals were lucky enough to actually go home with one in tow. By way of comparison, it took China Unicom nearly 6 weeks to sell 100,000 iPhones after it launched nearly a year ago.
The faster start to sales at China Unicom comes as Apple has started shortening the time it takes to launch its devices in China after their debut in other countries, and as Apple looks to boost product sales and promote its brand by opening more of its own retail stores in China. The iPhone 4 went on sale in China about three months after its launch in the U.S. and several other countries in late June.
This is quite key as China already has a bustling market for couterfeit and smuggled in iPhones. The longer Apple waits to introduce a new product into the country, the more time it gives interested iPhone owners to attain the device by other means.