Apple will introduce the iPhone 4S in China before the the populous nation celebrates the Year of the Dragon on January 23. That’s the word from the country’s People’s Daily. According to the publication, the government Ministry of Industry and Information Technology on Dec. 22 gave the tech giant the go-ahead to debut its latest device.
The news site said Apple’s smartphone will be introduced “at the beginning of January 2012″ in time for the Chinese New Year. Although the specific model was not mentioned in the government’s approval, the filing indicates model number A1431, the same identifier used when Apple obtained an earlier network entry permit for the iPhone 4S.
In contrast to the fast rollout elsewhere, the iPhone 4S introduction has involved a lengthy process. However, early signs are that China’s consumers are equally anxious to get their hands on the smartphone. In Hong Kong, it took only minutes for the iPhone 4S to sell out when introduced in November. For weeks now, China Unicom has taken iPhone 4S pre-orders.
The voice-recognition system Siri, which gained immediate fans in the U.S. and other English-speaking regions, will also be hotly-desired in China. Apple is expected to introduce support for China’s most popular language, Mandarin, by March of 2012, reports suggest.
Still to be resolved is whether Apple can land the big fish — China Mobile — expanding its customer base by many millions.