Apple iPad 2, packing 3G, arrives in China

Apple began selling version of itsiPad 2 with built-in 3G networking in mainland China today, some four months after the Wi-Fi only version made its debut there.

MarketWatch notes that sales of the device began today, both in Apple’s online and retail stores, and through authorized resellers in the country. A quick check on Apple’s online store in China shows the device as being out of stock (see photo above).

Up until now, customers in the region have only been able to buy the Wi-Fi version of the device through Apple, leading some to pick up gray market 3G models imported from other countries.

A report from The Wall Street Journal earlier this month noted that Apple had been cleared to sell a version of the iPad 2 with built-in 3G networking through China’s Telecommunication Equipment Certification Center. And as The next Web notes, pricing for the unannounced devices appeared on Apple’s Chinese site a week and a half ago.

China is a key area of interest to Apple watchers given its sales potential. during July’s quarterly earnings conference call, Apple CEO Tim Cook said the company was just “scratching the surface” of the Chinese market, with quarterly revenue of $3.8 billion, a six-fold increase from the same quarter the year before. A big part of that growth has been sales of theiPhone, which could see a substantial increase if Apple inks deals with additional carriers in the region, something that is expected to happen with the release of the next generation model.

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