What Is Apple Planning for China?

China

Soon after Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) sent out invitations for a September 10 media event to be hosted at its U.S. headquarters in Cupertino, California, the iPhone maker sent out similar invitations for another media event to be held in Beijing the following day. Since this will be the first time that Apple has hosted an iPhone premiere in China, the news sparked speculation that the company will be making an important announcement specifically geared toward the Chinese market, AppleInsider says.

Many commentators have speculated that Apple’s Beijing media event may be related to a widely anticipated deal with China Mobile (NYSE:CHL). China Mobile is the world’s largest carrier, with more than 740 million subscribers, but lacks a distribution deal with the iPhone maker.

Rumors of an Apple-China Mobile deal received a boost when Tim Cook met with China Mobile Chairman Xi Guohua in Beijing in late July. More recently, a report last month from China’s First Financial Daily said that negotiations between the two companies were going well and that “the two sides are expected to achieve cooperation in the future.” The Chinese news site also reported that the new iPhones will include a chip that allows the devices to be compatible with China Mobile’s network.

Paul Mozer at The Wall Street Journal reported that Apple might also be launching the next-generation iPhones earlier than expected in the greater China market. However, First Financial Daily’s sources believe Apple’s new iPhones won’t be available in China until November 28, since the devices are still pending approval from a government ministry.

There is also the possibility that Apple will make both of these announcements, or neither. The Beijing media event may simply be Apple’s attempt to raise its profile in China’s increasingly important smartphone market. Last quarter, the greater China market accounted for 13 percent of Apple’s total sales, down from 19 percent in the March quarter.

Apple is widely expected to unveil a lower-cost, plastic iPhone alongside the typical flagship device upgrade at Tuesday’s media event. Many analysts expect the lower-cost iPhone, or iPhone 5C, to boost Apple’s market share in China.

Here’s how Apple has traded so far this week.

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