Tim Cook said in October that it was “just a matter of time” before China overtook the USA as its biggest market, and it seems that time may be arriving sooner than expected – at least as far as the iPhone is concerned. The Financial Times reports that analysts expect tomorrow’s Q1 earnings call to confirm that Apple sold more iPhones in China than in the US.
Analysts at UBS estimate that China accounted for 36 per cent of iPhone shipments in the most recent quarter, compared with 24 per cent for the US. During the same period last year, 29 per cent of units were sold in the US and 22 per cent were in China, UBS said.
The view was supported by Creative Strategies, which forecast that Apple has sold around 2M more iPhones in China than in the US in the final calendar quarter of 2014 (Apple’s financial Q1) …
While the predictions relate only to iPhone sales, rather than to Apple’s total earnings, it would certainly be a huge step towards the future Cook predicted. The iPhone accounts for more than half of Apple’s revenue, and a greater share of profits. Creative Strategies analyst Ben Bajarin believes this represents a tipping point for Apple.
“They will likely do more in China than US from here on out,” he said. “It certainly shows how important the China market is to Apple’s upside.”
Apple is opening retail stores in China at a rapid pace, the most recent one on Friday, with three more due to open before the Chinese New Year. The company also has plans to launch Apple Pay in China, possibly through a partnership with the country’s market-leading ecommerce company Alibaba.