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iPhone shipments to double in China

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advance9 March 16, 2012 (Chinavestor) Smartphone shipments are expected to grow 50% to 137 million units in China this year, overtaking the U.S. as the largest market for such devices in the world. This makes a strong case for Samsung, the market leader in that country with a 24.2% market share. Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), the largest vendor of smart phones globally, is just the fifth largest in China at the moment, but is well positioned to carve out a much larger piece of the pie in the upcoming years. Here is why.

 

Samsung jump started its China smartphone business by offering its phones to all three major Chinese telecoms whereas iconic iPhones from Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) have been available only for China Unicom (NYSE:CHU) customers since October 2009. Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) lined up China Telecom (NYSE:CHA), the third largest mobile carrier in China, as another partner as recent as March 2012. China Telecom (NYSE:CHA) has started to sell iPhones on March 2nd. online and March 9 in stores. The two smaller players have a 35% combined share in China's mobile market. These two Apple partners are highlighted in red on the following table.

AAPL_partners

Investors may wonder why Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) is not lined up with China Mobile (NYSE:CHL), the largest mobile operator. This is where Samsung is making a killing. The good news for Apple is that the two smaller mobile players are much better entrenched in urban areas where affluent people live as the table above testifies. China Unicom (NYSE:CHU) has 43.1 million smart phone users while China Telecom (NYSE:CHA) has 37.7 million such subscribers, a much higher percentage of total subscribers than for China Mobile (NYSE:CHL). in other words, iconic iPhones from Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) are offered to the right crowd and sales expected to speed up now that CHA is a partner.

Investors wonder how many Chinese mobile users can afford a $500 piece phone in China. But they should not forget that China's one child policy is a great catalyst for "luxury" products where grandparents and parents do utmost to keep their one heir happy. Including may be a new iPhone.



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