“Apple is yet to tap the world’s biggest pool of potential iPhone buyers: China Mobile’s customers,” Rolfe Winkler reports for The Wall Street Journal. “That is set to change. When and how will help determine whether the U.S. technology company’s flagging stock can regain momentum.”
“When the iPhone first launched in 2007, it was sold by just one carrier, AT&T, in just one country, the U.S. That is now up to 275 carriers in 114 countries, says Strategy Analytics,” Winkler reports. “The most glaring omission is China Mobile, the world’s largest wireless carrier with more than 700 million subscribers. Among them are about 80 million wealthier ones that can afford Apple’s pricey smartphone, estimates HSBC analyst Tucker Grinnan. And of that elite group, more than half may be likely buyers of the iPhone, considering that Apple’s market share of high-end smartphone sales in China is 55%, according to HSBC. Indeed, more than 20 million of China Mobile’s customers already use “unlocked” versions of the iPhone on the carrier’s aging 2G network.”
Winkler reports, “So Apple investors have anxiously awaited some sort of deal, especially since the fall 2012 launch of iPhone 5, which is the first model that is compatible with China Mobile’s 3G network technology… Several factors suggest the companies will strike a deal eventually.”
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