Santa came for many in China as iPhone preorders launched on the Christmas Day. China Mobile started accepting pre-registration for both the iPhone 5s and 5c via its website and through a customer service hotline Dec. 25. Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) announced its partnership with China Mobile, the largest cell carrier in the world, on Sunday, stating the iPhone will be available to subscribers Jan. 17. Price points, however, have yet to be disclosed.
Stock prices rose about three percent after the announcement, jumping from $550 to $565, where it lingers (at time of writing). Analysts speculate this price will rise in 2014 as China Mobile’s subscriber-base officially adopts the iPhone. The Chinese carrier currently provides service to over 763 million customers, nearly two thirds of the entire country.
Though, this won’t be the first time an iPhone will have seen the Chinese carrier. Unlocked iPhones have operated on the cellular network for some time, according to analyst Chris Caso, “since those phones aren't able to access China Mobile's cellular [data] network, we think all of those phones represent potential upgrades." And upgrades mean more Apple customers. Overall iPhone customers are likely to own a secondary Apple device as well, whether it is an iPad or Mac, according to Global Equities Research analysts.
“Apple has enormous respect for China Mobile and we are excited to begin working together. China is an extremely important market for Apple and our partnership with China Mobile presents us the opportunity to bring iPhone to the customers of the world's largest network,” said Apple CEO Tim Cook.
With the inclusion of the iPhone, China Mobile will offer a vast array of options for consumers. The iPhone, however, will most likely play on the higher end of the price spectrum, getting competition from less expensive Android smartphones that have significant market saturation already; many of these devices are at the sub-$100 level. If the iPhone’s price reflects that of its North American and European price points, the smartphone will speculatively be one of the higher priced phones available from China Mobile.
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The iPhone 5s/5c were both announced earlier this year, in September. The 5s features a faster processor and updated camera, as well as a fingerprint sensor on the touch screen. The 5c is relatively unchanged from the previous model, the iPhone 5, but instead of the aluminum and glass build, the 5c comes in a plastic case available in multiple colors.