China Finally Approves Apple's New iPhones

Apple’s new iPhone 6 and 6 Plus went on sale on Sept. 19 in the U.S. and nine other countries, including Hong Kong—but not in China. The following week, Apple made its new phones available in 20 additional countries. Again, China didn’t make the cut, leading to a thriving gray market for the phones among Chinese consumers impatient with the delays.

Luckily for Apple, the lockout is ending. The company said on Tuesday that China’s Ministry of Information Technology has finally given its blessing to the two new iPhones: Preorders will begin on Oct. 10, and sales of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus will start a week later.

The phones were delayed because the Chinese regulator required Apple to address weaknesses in its iOS operating system that, the regulator feared, would compromise user security and safety. (Strikingly, the U.S. government has worried that the new iPhones are too secure.) With Apple already suffering embarrassment over malfunctioning IOS 8.0.1 software, the little dig from the Chinese regulator might slow some of the iPhone’s momentum when it goes on sale next month.

As it is, government mouthpieces haven’t been shy about tweaking Apple. In July, China Central Television detailed the risks of the iPhone’s location-based service software. Last year, the state-run broadcaster set off a local media frenzy by reporting on Apple’s warranty and repair policies, claiming that the company offered insufficient warranties in China, as well as shoddy service for phones that the warranties covered. “Destroy Apple’s ‘Incomparable’ Arrogance” thundered the People’s Daily, and Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook posted a letter of apology on the company’s Chinese website.

None of this has been good news for Apple, which increasingly counts on sales in China, its second-largest market, after the U.S. Last year, the company succeeded in including China in the worldwide debut of the iPhone 5s and 5c , making the phone available to Chinese consumers on the same day shoppers in the U.S. could buy it. Greater China (which includes Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, and the mainland) accounted for 14.9 percent of Apple’s revenue last year, up from 11.7 percent in 2011.

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