Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) announced that nine markets will begin selling the hotly anticipated iPhone 6 beginning September 19 in nine markets: the U.S., Canada, Britain, France, Germany, Australia, Singapore, Japan and Hong Kong. Notably missing: The world's biggest mobile phone market, China.
China is also Apple's biggest market otside of the U.S., but mainland China’s tech retailers will not be stocking the newly announced iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus on shelves next week. In a surprising choice, Apple has decided to instead opt to roll out the newest iPhone models in Hong Kong, forcing mainland Chinese to wait a week longer than their Hong Kong counterparts.
Apple did not offer a reason as to why Hong Kong was selected over China, but some suggest the government may have something to do with it.
According to state-run China Daily, pending approval by the Chinese government of the new iPhone models could be there reason China was shut out from the September 19 launch date. As of Thursday, the newest generation of the iPhone was not featured on the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology’s list of devices approved for sale in mainland China. Hong Kong, which is a "special administrative region", is not subject to the mainland's market controls.
As a result, Hong Kong’s inventory will have to supply China’s demand until the phone makes its mainland debut.
Hong Kong traders expect an even quicker first-week sales as a result of the delayed mainland launch. One sales manager at Ding Hao Top Electronics City, one of the biggest tech marketplaces in Beijing, told China Daily that they are already accepting preorders for the Hong Kong devices until the mainland shipment arrives a few days later.
The exclusion of China from the initial international launch is surprising especially compared to the previously unprecedented simultaneous launch of the iPhone 5C and iPhone 5S in China and the U.S. last year. This year’s hotly anticipated livestream announcement even featured live Mandarin translation, which is the official language of the mainland -- not of Hong Kong, where most people speak Cantonese.
The unlocked versions of the new phones will set back Hong Kong’s residents $5,588 and $6,388 Hong Kong dollars, roughly $721 and $824 U.S., respectively, for the lowest capacity iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.
“iPhone prices are usually driven by mainland customers,” a shopkeeper in Sin Tat Plaza, a shopping mall in Hong Kong, said to China Daily. “The reaction on the mainland to the new phone will lead the trend.”