Apple will announce this week that it sold more iPhones in China than in the US for the first time last year, the Financial Times reports.
This would confirm an earlier analyst note from UBS’ Steven Milunovich, who said, “Recent data suggests that iPhone demand saw outsized growth in China, even finding that China could constitute as much as 35% of shipments in the quarter compared with 22% a year ago.”
Apple has been steadily ramping up its efforts in China over the last few years. In December 2013, Apple was able to strike a deal with China Mobile — the largest network operator in China that has more subscribers than Verizon, AT&T and Sprint combined — to sell the iPhone 5s, and now the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus.
This is huge for Apple. In October, CEO Tim Cook predicted “it’s just a matter of time” before China became “Apple’s biggest revenue contributor.” And now, with the iPhone business bringing in most of the company’s money, China has likely become Apple’s most valuable market. On Friday, Cook celebrated the opening of a new Apple store in the country.
China may account for more iPhone revenue than here in the US, but Apple still isn’t the most popular smartphone maker in the country. That title belongs to Xiaomi, which bears many similarities to Apple in both design language and marketing flair, but sells its top-end phones at dirt-cheap prices.
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