Analyst: Apple’s Partnership With China Mobile Is a ‘Significant Opportunity’

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Source: China MobileCantor Fitzgerald analyst Brian White examined the impact of the iPhone’s official launch on China Mobile’s (NYSE:CHL) network in a recent note to investors. Although the iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C have been available for pre-registration through China Mobile’s website since December 25, the devices only became available in China Mobile retail stores and Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) Stores across mainland China on Friday. White’s optimism about the long-term benefits of Apple’s partnership with China Mobile was made apparent by his research note title: “We’ve Only Just Begun.”

White noted that Apple and China Mobile have both made adequate preparations for the iPhone launch. According to the analyst’s checks, “nearly all the stores we researched [were] holding sufficient stock of all models, even gold iPhones.” As previously noted by many industry watchers, Apple’s gold iPhone 5S model has proven to be especially popular in Asian markets where the color has positive cultural connotations.

The analyst noted that China Mobile is the world’s largest carrier with 763.3 million subscribers, or 62 percent of the total mobile subscriber base in China. White estimated that there are already 35 to 40 million unlocked iPhones that are being used on China Mobile’s network. Until now, these iPhone users have been forced to use 2G or 2.5G service in order to use their iPhones on China Mobile’s network. This suggests that the iPhone has a special cachet with Chinese consumers that may translate into more sales now that the iPhone is compatible with the carrier’s 3G and 4G networks. Based on the size of China Mobile’s subscriber base and the strong appeal of Apple’s brand, White estimated that the California-based company would sell 20 to 24 million iPhones through China Mobile in 2014.

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