Newly released data from market research firm Counterpoint showed that Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) quadrupled its share of China’s smartphone market in October as the California-based company prepares to roll out its devices on China Mobile’s (NYSE:CHL) network. According to Counterpoint, Apple’s share of the Chinese smartphone market increased to 12 percent in October from 3 percent in September. China was included in Apple’s initial iPhone launch weekend for the first time this year.
Counterpoint reports that Apple’s 12 percent share raised the iPhone maker from its previous position as the sixth-largest smartphone vendor in China to the third largest. The firm also noted that Apple’s impending distribution deal with China Mobile will likely fuel even more growth.
“[W]ith China Mobile deal on the horizon, Apple iPhone 5s at all three carriers will for sure ignite a ‘price war’ boosting the overall iPhone 5s sales in China,” wrote Counterpoint. “This might allow Apple to even reach the No. 1 smartphone player in December or January in China.”
Although China Mobile has yet to officially confirm a deal with Apple, it has already posted several different iPhone advertisements on its various websites that invite subscribers to preorder the iPhone 5S. According to The Wall Street Journal, more than 10,000 people have already preordered Apple’s flagship device.
The carrier is widely expected to announce a distribution deal with Apple when it unveils its new 4G services at a global partner conference in Guangzhou on Wednesday. Earlier this month, China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology issued a 4G operating license to China Mobile. As previously reported by the Journal, China Mobile uses the TD-LTE standard for its 4G network; the TD-LTE compatible versions of Apple’s iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C have already been licensed by China’s Telecom Equipment Certification Center.
Per the company’s website, China Mobile is the world’s largest carrier, with more than 750 million subscribers. Although Apple already has distribution deals with China’s two other major carriers — China Unicom (NYSE:CHU) and China Telecom (NYSE:CHA) — a deal with China Mobile is expected to greatly expand Apple’s penetration of the Chinese smartphone market. In a recent note to investors obtained by Street Insider, Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster estimated that a deal with China Mobile could add as many as 17 million iPhone unit sales for Apple in calendar year 2014.
Follow Nathanael on Twitter @ArnoldEtan_WSCS
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