China expects iPhone to grab 10% share

November 20, 2009

China expects iPhone to grab 10% shareThe company designated as Apple’s only (so far) retailer and service provider in China says that they expect that the iPhone will attract a 10 percent market share of China’s 3G users.

A senior executive with China Unicom, the iPhone distributor in China, has said that the Apple handset is attracting attention from his country’s business users, in addition to other consumer users, and that he expects the iPhone to be a great success there despite what has been seen as a relatively slow start. The Unicom executive, who requested anonymity,  is quoted as saying, “We expect the handset to attract over 10 percent of China’s 3G users in the following two to three years.”

Those remarks come shortly after Unicom’s chairman, Chang Xiaobing, said that he expects iPhone to become China’s best-selling smart phone, according to a report on ChinaDaily. There have been articles, including in this space, that the iPhone got off to a less-than-exciting start in China when sales began in that country. There was certainly not the level of excitement there as generally attends even the introduction of a new iPhone model in the U.S. The two markets are extremely different, of course, and it is hard to tell what can be learned from the U.S. experience when trying to predict what will happen in China.

If the Unicom executives are correct, Apple’s 10 percent share of 1.02 million 3G subscribers would net Apple 100,000 new handset users. That will put an additional tens of millions of dollars in Apple’s coffers. Unicom is spending heavily on advertising for the iPhone, with very large ads in over 10,000 bus shelters in 27 cities, plus additional advertisements in subway stations. If this large campaign pays off for Unicom, it could help bring them closer to their larger rival, China Mobile. Of course, when last heard from, China Mobile was still in talks with Apple to also become a distributor of the iPhone, which could boost sales numbers considerably if it became a reality.

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