Apple Has Big Weekend in China as Wal-Mart Sells iPhone 5, iPad On the Cheap

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It could be the shot in the arm that Apple needs after seeing its stock fall more than 25 percent in the last three months. The Silicon Valley giant said on Monday that it sold more than 2 million iPhone 5s in China over the weekend following its Dec. 14 launch in that Asian nation.

Customer response to [the] iPhone 5 in China has been incredible, setting a new record with the best first weekend sales ever in China,” said Tim Cook, Apples CEO. China is a very important market for us and customers there cannot wait to get their hands on Apple products.”

The iPhone 5 went on sale at Apple retail outlets and online in China last week. You can also get the device from carriers China Telecom and China Unicom. Apple has long been rumored to be in talks with China Mobile the world’s largest wireless operator in terms of subscriber numbers but there’s no deal between the two just yet.

There had been concerns last week that short lines at one of Apple’s premier stores in Beijing were a harbinger of bad news. But not so, note analyst Shaw Wu of Sterne Agee, who has his fingers on the pulse of Apple sales.

“We believe these concerns are misplaced in that [Apple] China implemented a new policy where a reservation is required to pick up new devices like the iPhone 5,” Agee wrote on Monday. ”This was implemented to deliver a better customer experience and in response to near-riots in previous years due to new product launches like the iPhone 4S, iPhone 4, and iPad mini.”

Apple might be able to count on bigger iPhone 5 sales sooner than with previous models since it will be available in more than 100 countries by the end of the month, making it the fastest iPhone rollout ever, the company said.

Meantime, the margins might be smaller, but Apple can surely count on a ton of sales at Wal-Mart stores over the next month. The retail giant last week started selling the iPhone 5 at discounts you’d have a hard time finding anywhere else, Reuters reported.

The 16GB version of the device is selling for $127 at many Wal-Mart retail outlets (with a two-year service contract from AT&T, Verizon or Sprint), well below the traditional $200 price tag for the handset. The 16GB iPad (Wi-Fi only version) is also selling on the cheap at the big-box store down from $499 to $399. But it’s all for a limited time 30 days and there’s no discount online.

The agreement between Apple and Wal-Mart comes at a cost to Amazon, whose Kindle products are no longer sold at the retail behemoth.

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