Recently Apple and China Mobile, the world's most popular and largest mobile service provider, cut a deal to offer the iPhone through China Mobile's service. Now, initial pre-orders for Apple iPhones are in and the results are surprisingly underwhelming.
According to Investor's Business Daily, early reports show that China Mobile iPhone orders are lagging compared to what other carriers experienced when they began selling the flagship smartphone from Apple.
"We think China Mobile's pre-orders for Apple's iPhone 5S/5C reached about 100K (with contract) in the first two days since pre-orders started, compared with 120K pre-orders from China Unicom (CHU) and 150K pre-orders from China Telecom (CHA) back in September," wrote Wedge Partners analyst Jun Zhang. "Unlocked iPhone 5S pre-orders added another 150K in the first day, compared to 400-500K pre-orders when the unlocked iPhone 5S initially launched in China in September."
Apparently, the addition of China Mobile as an iPhone distributor has stalled some sales of the device with other carriers. China Mobile won't actually offer the iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C for retail sale until Jan. 17 however, preregistration began Wednesday.
"It is clear that China Mobile's pre-order activities have affected other channels' iPhone 5S/5C sales," Zhang wrote. "Specifically, we believe iPhone 5S/5C sales dropped about 35% since China Mobile announced its iPhone deal from the week that pre-orders started."
With China Mobile now on board to distribute the iPhone, Apple is expected to sell 2.8 million to 2.9 million iPhone 5 series units per month in Q1, up from 2.7 million to 2.8 million per month.
Wedge Partners does not predict the increase sales to boost Apple's market share. It believes Apple will sell 34 million iPhones in China in 2014, giving it 9 percent smartphone market share. In 2013 it is forecast to sell 33 million iPhones in China for 10 percent market share.
Apple had a strong presence in China back in 2011 with 43 percent of the market share. However, that dipped to 16 percent as lower cost Android operating system phones from Google made their way into the Chinese market.