Report: Apple ships 1.4 million iPhone 5s units to China Mobile ahead of Jan. 17 launch

The Wall Street Journal reports that Apple has shipped approximately 1.4 million iPhone 5S units to China Mobile in preparation of the carrier’s iPhone launch on Jan. 17. The report notes it likely doesn’t present sales for the full month of January with preorders having kicked off under three weeks ago, but it is a good indication of how many new iPhone customers Apple could potentially get on a monthly basis through the deal:

“Shipping one million or more iPhones to a single carrier per month is substantial. But we have limited visibility beyond this month as Apple hasn’t informed Foxconn of  the volume for the next shipment to China Mobile,” said the person.

Apple finally made things official last month when it announced in a press release that it had struck a deal with China Mobile to begin selling the iPhone 5s and 5c, marking the first time the iPhone would be sold through the carrier’s retail stores. China Mobile, the world’s largest carrier with over 760 million subscribers, started taking preorders for the device on December 25 following Apple’s announcement. No word on estimates for iPhone 5c shipments, but China Mobile is set to begin selling that device too starting Friday.