Apple’s expansion into China is one of the biggest stories of 2014, which is why it’s a surprise to hear that the company’s long-awaited iPhone 6 may not be available there at all this year.
According to a Bloomberg report — citing Chinese business paper 21st Century Herald — the delay is the result of Apple failing to come to an agreement with China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. The New York Times had previously reported that the iPhone 6 was being held up due to lack of approval from Chinese regulators.
The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus are set to arrive in the U.S., Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Puerto Rico, Singapore and the U.K. on September 19, but as of yet there is no confirmed release date for either device in China.
While the validity of 21st Century Herald‘s reporting isn’t known, if the story is accurate it’s definitely bad news for Apple, particularly since Tim Cook has previously noted the country has the potential to one day overtake the U.S. as Apple’s biggest market. Phablets are also huge in China (no pun intended), which means that the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus in particular could help the Apple brand achieve new heights of popularity.
In the absence of the iPhone 6, carriers will reportedly focus on selling lower-cost handsets.
Although few were expecting the iPhone 6 to be pushed back all the way to 2015, this isn’t the first time Apple has had disagreements with the Chinese government. The Chinese media recently accused Apple of using both iCloud and the “Find My iPhone” function to spy on its citizens, while Apple recently moved iCloud in the country over to state-run servers.
We’ll update with more information as we hear it.