In a rare misstep for the tech giant Apple watched its stock fall by as much as 4% in early trading Friday. Apple stock reached as low as $509 per share on news that iPhone 5 sales failed to reach estimated distribution levels in China.

After delaying the iPhone 5 for more than a month from the time of its US debut the initial reception to the device was lukewarm compared to prior Apple iPhone devices.

The Wall Street Journal reports:

“Apple’s flagship store in Beijing’s upscale Sanlitun shopping district began selling the iPhone 5 for the first time on Friday in what was arguably the least eventful launch of an Apple device in the company’s four-year history in the Chinese capital.”

Apple iPhone 5

Apple may have made several missteps that ultimately hurt sales. First, the company is requiring potential buyers to register one day in advance with Apple Stores. This requirement was put into place after a shortage of device led to tight controls over the Chinese version of the iPhone 5.

Apple could also be witnessing sales slowdowns because of the lukewarm reviews Apple received for the iOS 6 platform in other regions. In many cases analysts complained of a lack in innovation found on the iPhone 5. It could also be that Apple Maps led many users to hold off on the device until Google’s recently released mapping software debuted.

Apple shares ultimately lost 3% of their value to trade at $513 on the day. Apple has repeatedly said that China was a main area of growth for the company and with this failure some analysts have cut future stock price predictions for the company.

Share prices at Apple, Inc. closed out 2011 at $405, in September 2012 shares peaked at $705 in September but quickly fell after the launch of the iPhone 5.

With increased competition from Google Android manufacturers and a new BlackBerry 10 OS just around the corner Apple could be in for a challenging 2013.

[Image via CNet]