Apple still faces one more hurdle to selling iPhone 6 in China

Apple’s new iPhone 6 and 6 Plus become available tomorrow in the U.S. and other countries. China isn’t one of those and as of yet, it’s not clear when consumers in that country will be able to buy the new handsets. The date should be getting closer, however, as Reuters reported Thursday that Apple has one of the two required licenses it needs to sell the iPhone 6 in China.

Apple's iPhone 6. Photo by Tom Krazit/Gigaom

Apple’s iPhone 6. Photo by Tom Krazit/Gigaom

Similar to how the FCC tests and approves cellular devices in the U.S., China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology certifies handsets for sale in China. The MIIT has approved the iPhones for domestic frequencies but hasn’t yet provided Apple with a “critical network access license,” so there’s still one hurdle left before Apple or carriers can sell the iPhone 6 in China.

The situation is a bit of a black eye for [company]Apple[/company], even if it’s outside of Cupertino’s control. Last year, the iPhone 5s was available in China the same day it was available in the U.S. And with its massive population, China is a key growth market for Apple as it now has handsets with larger screens to combat the sales of “phablets,” which are popular in Asia.

Will the delay in China hurt overall iPhone 6 and 6 Plus sales? It’s not likely; I wouldn’t expect consumers in China to suddenly stop waiting for the new iPhones and buy a large Android phone instead at this point. It’s more of a sign that, despiteĀ all of its control and influence, not even Apple canĀ make magic happen overnight.