Apple Inc. likely sold more iPhones in China than in the United States for the first time last year.
The US tech giant reached the turning point after expanding its presence in China last year through a deal with China Mobile, the country’s largest network operator, and after the release of the iPhone 6 in the country in October, the Financial Times reported Monday, citing analysts.
The iPhone’s growing market share in China comes as Samsung, the global market leader by smartphone volumes, has stumbled and the region has seen the rapid rise of low-cost challenger Xiaomi.
Apple chief executive Tim Cook had said in 2013 that he expected China to eventually overtake the US as Apple’s single largest source of revenue.
The iPhone already accounts for more than half of Apple sales and an even larger share of its profits.
UBS analysts estimate that China accounted for 36 per cent of iPhone shipments in the most recent quarter compared with 24 per cent for the US.
During the same period last year, 29 per cent of units were sold in the US and 22 per cent in China, UBS said.
“It’s already been a good year, building up to the climax of this quarter,” said Ben Bajarin, analyst at Creative Strategies, referring to Apple’s momentum in the world’s largest smartphone market.
“It leads to a lot more optimism for China … Their potential headroom in China is higher than it is here [in the US].”
Bajarin’s forecast suggests about two million more iPhones were sold in China than North America in the quarter.
He said the launch of Apple’s new Watch in China in the coming months is likely to increase loyalty among first-time Apple customers.
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