iPhone 5 Launches In China To Cold Reception

Just as Apple CEO Tim Cook said it would, the iPhone 5 officially launched in mainland China and Taiwan on Friday as well as in over 30 other countries.

China is a big market for Apple, and, in the past, we’ve seen pretty strong turnouts at launch events for previous products. When the iPhone 4S was set to debut early this year, a scuffle that nearly sparked a riot started when the Sanlitun store failed to open on time.

It’s perhaps surprising, then, that the iPhone 5’s launch in China on Friday was comparatively, well, awful. The Wall Street Journal reports that when the Sanlitun store opened its doors at 8:00 am. on Friday, only two customers were waiting outside.

The underwhelming turnout can likely be attributed at least in part to snowfall in the region, something of an uncommon sight. Another, perhaps the biggest, could be that customers aren’t taking too well to Apple’s new rules for reserving an iPhone 5.

According to reports, Apple requires consumers to apply in order to reserve their iPhone 5, a process that some are calling troublesome at best. In order to buy an iPhone 5 on launch day, you had to pre-order at least a day in advance.

Apple is hopeful that the iPhone 5 will go on to be a success in China, but one analyst doesn’t think that what the iPhone 5 offers is enough to attract consumers to upgrade their phones.

“I think the high-end market is already saturated with Apple’s product. People that should have an Apple product, already have one,” Gartner analyst Sandy Shen said in an interview last month (via Computer World).

“If you ask them to upgrade to the iPhone 5, I don’t think they will have a strong enough drive to do it because of the lack of innovation in the new iPhone.”