Last week, it was reported that Apple had once again become the world’s largest smartphone maker. Turns out this was due to the fact that Apple sold 37 million iPhones last quarter alone! Now, Morgan Stanley believes that Apple will partner up with both China Telecom and China Mobile “over the next year” to make its iPhone available on all three Chinese carriers. That may not sound amazing, but what does is the fact that Morgan Stanley believes that the company will be able to sell up to 40M iPhones in China alone in the next calendar year. This means that Apple could soon sell as many iPhones in China as it sells in the rest of the world combined!
Remember, Apple sold 37 million iPhones last quarter worldwide, but this estimate is for one country alone. Analyst Katy Huberty suggested the huge untapped potential for the iPhone in China. According to her, Apple can only possibly reach 10 percent of the 150 million “high-end Chinese subscribers” in the country through its current partnership with China Unicom. Last year, Tim Cook said that Apple was only “scratching the surface” in China. She says that she sees a base case of 26 million incremental iPhone sales in China during the 2013 calendar year with the addition of China Mobile and China Telecom. Her bull case suggests 40 million units for an increase of $10 in earnings per share.
The analyst also suggests that if Apple sees a 20 percent penetration of China Mobile’s subscribers as the company has reached with China Unicom, the iPhone maker would be able to sell 24 million handsets on China Mobile alone next year. Due to the fact that 3G and smartphone penetration in China is “increasing at a fast clip” she believes that the company could sell as many as 36 million units on China Mobile in 2013.
In China, China Mobile is the world’s largest carrier, and offers service to an estimated 120 million high-end subscribers who pay more than 100RMB ($16) a month. The final 10 percent of high-end subscribers are on China Telecom, the third-largest carrier in China.
I’m trying to think of another company that is expected to sell as many phones in China as it sells in the rest of the world combined. Anyone?