Apple's Launching The iPhone On China's Third-Largest Mobile Carrier--It's Much Bigger Than Verizon

Rich mobile subscribers in China vs. iPhone penetration.

Photo: Morgan Stanley

Apple is finally launching the iPhone with a second mobile carrier in China, Philip Elmer-Dewitt of Fortune reports.The carrier is China Telecom, which is China’s third-largest mobile carrier.

China Telecom has 129 million mobile subscribers. For context, that makes it much bigger than Verizon (109 million).

China’s second-largest carrier, China Unicom, has had a monopoly on the iPhone for 18 months. China Unicom has about 200 million mobile subscribers–twice the size of Verizon. It also has another ~150 million local and broadband subscribers.

Apple, meanwhile, is still in talks with China Mobile, the granddaddy of China’s mobile operators.

China Mobile has 655 million subscribers.

That’s about 6 times the size of Verizon.

It’s about twice the size of the United States.

The iPhone will come out on China Mobile eventually, probably when Apple offers a 4G version with LTE.

Analyst Katy Huberty of Morgan Stanley estimates that there are about 150 million subscribers across China’s three carriers who could afford to buy iPhones (see chart). She estimates that, once iPhones are available on all three carriers and China’s middle-class continues to grow, Apple will sell more than 60 million iPhones in China per year.

For context, Apple sold about 90 million iPhones worldwide last year.

SEE ALSO: APPLE’S TV DREAM REVEALED: Embarrass Hardware Makers, Stiff Content Providers, Destroy Cable Companies

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