Despite expressing disappointment that Apple's new iPhones are still priced too high for the local market, Chinese consumers are going ahead with preorders for the handset which will be available on Friday.
China's second-largest operator by subscriber base revealed it received over 100,000 online orders over the past week for the iPhone 5c and 5s. China Unicom said it began taking online bookings after the Beijing launch event on September 11, adding that its customers can place orders through the company's online and offline channels.
The operator was the first Chinese carrier to distribute Apple products, offering contract-based packages for the iPhone since 2009, according to a report on China Internet Information Center's portal China.org.cn. The third-largest player, China Telecom, has yet to reveal its iPhone preorders.
The country's largest carrier, though, remains the missing link in Apple's China ecosystem. China Mobile accounts for 63 percent of the local mobile population of 1.19 billion has yet to agree to sell Apple products, despite reportedly engaging in discussions with Apple CEO Tim Cook last month. The telco, though, reportedly has some 42 million subscribers who use an iPhone, according to Sina Tech.
In comparison, China Unicom and China Telcom together have a subscriber base of just 266 million.
Public response had been lukewarm following the launch of the new iPhones, with Chinese netizens expressing disappointment over the pricepoint of the iPhone 5c which had been marketed as a cheaper option. Analysts and consumers across the region echoed similar views, noting that the colored range of iPhones were not cheap enough to attract consumers in emerging Asia-Pacific markets.
Apple's share in China falls behind arch-rival Samsung, which accounts for 20 percent of the smartphone market, as well as local manufacturers including Lenovo, Huawei Technologies, and Xiaomi.
Elsewhere, the iPhone maker remained mum over preorder numbers in the U.S. even though it had typically released such numbers in previous launches. At the last iPhone 5 launch, the company said it received 2 million preorders within the first 24 hours.
Just 11 countries will be part of the first launch phase for the new iPhones on September 20, including Singapore, China, Australia, Japan, Germany, France, and the United Kingdom. This will climb to 100 countries by December, according to Apple.