iPhone 6 China preorders soar past 20M -- report

If accurate, that's double the number of iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus units sold during launch weekend in the US and elsewhere.

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The iPhone 6 (left) and the 6 Plus. Apple

Chinese consumers may have preordered as many as 20 million iPhone 6 units in just three short days.

A report from Chinese website Tencent claims that Chinese mobile carriers and Chinese e-commerce site Jingdong Mall are responsible for 20 million preorders of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus since preorders kicked off last Friday. China's three major mobile carriers -- China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom -- snagged 10 million of the preorders, while Jingdong Mall, or JD.com, accounted for 9.5 million, reported MacRumors.

The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus went on sale in the US and other countries on September 19, but China wasn't included in the initial launch party due to a delay in regulatory approval of the new phones. The country's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology had to approve the new iPhones for network access before retailers could officially start selling them. That approval finally came through in late September.

Following last Friday's online preorders, the new iPhones will land in stores across China starting this Friday, October 17.

Is that 20 million number accurate, or should we take it with a grain of salt? Well, here's another stat. When preorders kicked off in the US and other countries on September 12, Apple captured more than 4 million in the first 24 hours. To hit 20 million for the entire weekend, Apple would have needed an additional 16 million preorders in just 72 hours. During the actual sales launch weekend, Apple sold 10 million iPhones, half the number of preorders reported in China.

A report from Fortune called the 20 million number a "big if" but did cite an estimate from Jingdong that pointed to 9.5 million preorders for that retailer as of Monday. iPhone 6 reservations in China reportedly hit 2 million in the first six hours. Reservations are not the same as preorders. A reservation is more of a commitment to preorder or buy an item, while a preorder is an actual transaction in which you order the phone before it's available. Reservations are still a good sign of demand.

Whether these estimates are accurate or not, there is a great hunger for the iPhone in China. Apple sold a record number of iPhone 5S units in China during the fourth quarter or 2013. The iPhone is Apple's most important device and its biggest moneymaker, accounting for more than half of sales. About 16 percent of Apple's $37.4 billion in sales in the second quarter of this year came out of China, the world's largest smartphone market.

An Apple spokeswoman told CNET that the company does not comment on speculation.

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