Morgan Stanley: Apple Could See 57 Million iPhone Bump From China Through 2013

Coming off extraordinary Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone sales of 37 million in the fourth quarter of last year, analyst Katy Huberty of Morgan Stanley is speculating that number may soon be dwarfed.  Huberty stated in Fortune that Apple may reap the benefit of as much as 57 million new iPhone sales through next year from China alone.

Huberty’s reasoning is fairly sound. China right now has a potential market of 150 million high-end mobile users across three carriers: China Unicom (NYSE:CHU), China Mobile (NYSE:CHL), and China Telecom (NYSE:CHA). Right now, about 20 percent of China Unicom subscribers own an iPhone. Unicom is Apple’s official carrier in China, but it is pursuing arrangements presently with other carriers.  If arrangements are made with other carriers and adoption rates remain consistent among each carrier, Huberty expects that it could lead to an addition 24 million iPhones sold in 2013.  China Mobile already has 10 million iPhone subscribers using the older 2G speed model.

Huberty even believes that the number of penetration for all providers may rise considerably to levels commiserate with AT&T (NYSE:T).  Last quarter 80 percent of new smartphone sales for AT&T were for the iPhone.  It’s on these estimates that Huberty has crafted the 57 million number.

China is known to be very hungry for Apple products and especially the iPhone.  CEO Tim Cook publicly lamented that the company “didn’t bet high enough in China.” The company also recently experienced near riot conditions at retailers who were selling the phone and last year had to even deal with counterfeit Apple stores opening up in China to satisfy customer demand.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jonathan Morris at staff.writers@wallstcheatsheet.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Damien Hoffman at editors@wallstcheatsheet.com