Apple Inc.’s (Nasdaq:AAPL) share of the Chinese smartphone market leaped to 12 percent in October, as the iPhone 5s has proven a hit in the country. Analysts expect the California-based company to become even more popular when China Mobile (NYSE:CHL), the nation’s largest mobile network by subscribers, begins to take pre-orders Thursday for iPhones.
This jump in market share makes Apple the third-biggest smartphone company in China, according to a new survey from technology market researcher Counterpoint. Just a month before, Apple only had a measly 3 percent of the Chinese smartphone market.
The 5s has become equally popular in other parts of the world, and was the best-selling phone worldwide during October. The high-end smartphone with a built-in fingerprint reader also makes up 10 percent of all iPhones in use, the analytics company Mixpanel said, and that the redesigned iOS7 operating system prompted a faster uptake compared to last year’s iOS6.
And rosier times are on the horizon for Apple, which has struggled until recently to make a splash in the Chinese market saturated with high-end competitor Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd (KRX:005930) and cheaper domestic brands like Xiaomi. In the next week, China Mobile, the biggest Chinese mobile operator with more than 750 million subscribers, will begin to carry iPhones. The state-owned company has previously operated on a 3G network that was slow and incompatible with Apple products.
With the China Mobile launch, iPhones will be available from all three Chinese operators – China Mobile along with China Unicom Limited (NYSE:CHU) and China Telecom Corporation Limited (NYSE:CHA), which have 391 3G subscribers eager to switch to the faster 4G network. The licenses were granted to the three companies last month.
“[Having] Apple iPhone 5s at all three carriers will for sure ignite a ‘price war’ boosting the overall iPhone 5s sales in China," said Tom Kang, a researcher at Counterpoint, according to the Guardian. “This might allow Apple to even reach the No.1 smartphone player in December or January in China.”