Apple iPhone gets blockbuster weekend, thanks to China

Chinese consumers snapped up 2 million iPhone 5 handsets over the weekend. Still, a new Citi Research report helped drive Apple shares down. 

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    Security guards and staff stand at the entrance of an Apple store during the release of the Apple iPhone 5 in Beijing's Wangfujing shopping district, on Dec. 14.
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Chinese consumers snapped up two million iPhone 5 handsets in just three days – a record for the best weekend launch of an Apple product in China

In a statement, Apple CEO Tim Cook called China a "very important market for us," and said "customer response to [the] iPhone 5 in China has been incredible."

Certainly, the sales figures are good news for Apple, which has not experienced the same market success (nor invested the same marketing muscle) in the east as it has in the States.

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As The Wall Street Journal notes, Apple sold only 2.1 million iPhone 4S units in China in the entire fiscal third quarter of this year. 

Still, not all is bliss in Cupertino. On Monday, shares in Apple fell after Citi Research downgraded Apple's stock on Sunday from "buy" to "neutral." 

"Our previous buy rating was trading oriented, reflecting our expectation for a near-term rally (after a substantial sell-off) on strong iPhone 5 sales," Citi Research said in a note to investors obtained by the Journal. "However, near-term supply-chain order cuts, while inconclusive in nature, bring into question the strength of [the] iPhone 5 and refocus investors onto risks in the Apple story."

In related news, Apple's iOS recently surpassed Android as the mobile operating system of choice among American smartphone users. According to Kantar Worldpanel ComTech, iOS currently accounts for 48.1 percent of the American smart phone market, while Android has 46.7 percent. 

Despite the fact that it was not drastically overhauled – we think of the device as a modest refinement of the iPhone 4 design – the iPhone 5 was received warmly by critics when it launched in the US this fall. 

"On balance," wrote Walt Mossberg of the Journal, "I still consider the iPhone the best smartphone on the market."

For more tech news, find us on Twitter @venturenaut.

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