China Mobile sold ~1 million iPhones last month, the Wall Street Journal reports.
After reporting earnings, China Mobile CEO Li Yue said, “We added 1.34 million new 4G users in February and most of them are iPhone users.”
This isn’t a great number, but it’s not all that bad either. Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster said in January that he expects Apple will sell 3 million iPhones at China Mobile in the March quarter.
China Mobile is one of the big things to watch for Apple this year. For years, people thought that once Apple got official distribution through China Mobile, sales would skyrocket.
Now that it’s a reality, expectations have been tempered. Katy Huberty at Morgan Stanley, for instance, is only calling for 12 million iPhones at China mobile this year. (For context, Apple shipped 153.2 million iPhones last year.)
China Mobile is the world’s biggest carrier, so people started to expect big sales, but there are some caveats.
First and foremost, iPhones are still expensive, so that’s going to limit sales. Second, China Mobile is still building out its 4G network. Third, a lot of people on China Mobile were buying iPhones unlocked and using them. So, while it’s new that China Mobile officially supports the iPhone, it’s not new for China Mobile users to be able to use an iPhone.
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