Listen up, we know we keep going on about Apple’s unfolding iPhone adventures in China, and we know most of our US readers seem cool to this news, but it’s important, really important – if Apple plays its cards correctly it could lead to a major explosion in iPhone sales, dwarfing those in the US and the UK. And that’s why Apple management are exploring all available strategies to take a slice of this market…

We’ve already reported on the now-announced deal with China Unicom, which should see five million iPhones sold into China across Apple’s next financial year, generating a handy $1.5 billion in gross revenue for the firm.

We’ve told you that Apple remains in negotiation with China’s biggest carrier, China Mobile, which has an astonishing 460 million subscribers. Apple’s discussions with Chinese mobile carriers have been lengthy and complicated, so there’s another plan to penetrate the world’s most populous country.

Research firm Wedge Partners analyst Matt Mathison believes Apple’s management are quietly hatching another deal to get iPhones into China in quantity – a tie-up with China’s biggest mobile phone retailer, Di Xing Tong. That retailer has hundreds of stores across China, and is owned by long-time Apple partner, Foxconn. (Guess which products Foxconn make for Apple in the comments below).

Selling iPhones through this giant retailer is a very big deal, the analyst says. He believes iPhones sold at these stores could be unlocked for use on the CHina Mobile network, no matter how direct negotiations with that carrier work out. The result? The analyst thinks these high street sales in China could add another five million iPhone sales to Apple’s existing predicted sales in the company’s 2010 financial year.

That would raise Apple’s iPhone sales in China next year to a potential 6-10 million units, aggregating various consensus estimates. That could equate to 40 per cent of total iPhone sales next year, some estimates suggest, assuming Apple can bring its products to market at a price that’s achievable by Chinese consumers.

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