iPhone 5 and Wi-Fi iPad mini, iPad 4 are headed for China in December

It’s official: the iPad mini, iPad 4 and iPhone 5 are set to land on China’s store shelves in December. The company announced today the 7.9-inch iPad mini and 9.7-inch iPad 4 with Retina display will arrive Friday, December 7, while the iPhone 5 drops a bit later – December 14. Only Wi-Fi iPad models are being released now as the cellular option has just cleared China regulatory hoops.

As of the Friday announcement, new iPads are available in 42 countries. The iPhone 5, which had some earlier supply glitches, has now rolled out in 47 countries…

Apple’s media release reads:

Apple today announced the Wi-Fi versions of iPad mini and fourth generation iPad with Retina display will be available in China on Friday, December 7, and iPhone 5 will be available on Friday, December 14.

iPad mini and the new fourth generation iPad with Retina display are currently available in 42 countries, and iPhone 5 is available in 47 countries, including the US, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan and the UK.

Just yesterday, China reportedly granted the iPhone 5 a network access license, essentially approving the handset for China Telecom, the nation’s third-largest carrier.

For some time rumors have swirled around an iPhone 5 licensing deal with China Mobile, the country’s largest provider. So far, such talk remains only in the rumor stage.

China recently has been center-stage.

Along with ongoing debate on if and when Apple will sign a deal with China’s largest carrier China Mobile, new reports indicate the country is hugely important for the iPhone maker.

Apple CEO Tim Cook recently said “demand is off the charts in China”.

A new survey of worldwide iOS and Android markets found China’s smartphone growth on pace to pass the US as the largest market for smartphones.

With 2013 seeming to be framed as China’s year, what changes must Apple make to adapt to the market?

Although iPad sales top a hundred million units and most mobile ad impressions come from iOS devices, Android’s growth is not pausing.

Can the $199 iPhone 5 meet the demand for low-cost smartphones in China – or will Apple need to try a new tactic?