Apple Inc. (AAPL) said the latest iPad will arrive in China on July 20, working to extend its lead in the tablet market by courting new business in the world's most populous nation.
The new iPad, which went on sale in the U.S. in March, will cost $499 to $829, depending on the amount of memory and the device's wireless-connection compatibility, Cupertino, California-based Apple said yesterday in a statement.
China has become Apple's second-biggest market after the U.S., as rising wages give Chinese citizens more disposable income to spend on iPhones, iPads and Mac computers. China accounted for $7.9 billion of Apple's $39.2 billion sales in the fiscal second quarter, which ended March 31. That was more than triple the company's sales in the country a year earlier.
Apple will look to buck a slowdown in the Chinese economy that is reverberating across the technology industry. Applied Materials Inc. (AMAT) and Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (AMD) cited weakness in China this week when trimming financial forecasts.
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said there was "relatively large" downward pressure on the economy there, and that authorities will intensify efforts to give it a boost, according to a July 8 report by the official Xinhua News Agency.
Apple is also aiming to stay ahead in tablets as Google Inc. and Microsoft Corp. prepare to release their own tablet computers.
Apple is taking steps to manage the new iPad's debut in China to avoid a repeat of the scene when the iPhone 4S was released there last year. Customers who had been waiting in line for hours clashed with employees and threw eggs at the stores, causing shops to be closed. Authorities were called in to break up the crowd.
Apple said the new iPad will be available for purchase by reservation only at Apple retail stores. It also will be available for sale at authorized resellers and the company's online store.
The iPad is Apple's second-best selling product behind the iPhone, accounting for 17 percent of sales in the second quarter. Apple, the world's largest company by market value, will report third-quarter results on July 24.