Apple is expected to say this week that it has sold more iPhones in China than on its home turf in the US for the first time last year, highlighting the shifting power balance of the smartphone market.
Analysts estimate that the US tech group reached the turning point in iPhone sales after expanding its presence in China last year via a deal with China Mobile, the country’s largest network operator, and after the release of the latest iPhone 6 in the country in October.
分析师们估计，这家美国高科技集团的iPhone销量之所以会出现这一转折，原因一方面是该公司去年通过与中国移动(China Mobile)签署的协议，加大了在中国市场的地盘，另一方面则是由于10月苹果在中国发布了最新款的iPhone 6手机。中国移动是中国规模最大的移动通信运营商。
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.
Tim Cook, chief executive, 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’s total sales and an even larger share of its profits.
Analysts at UBS 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 were 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].”
在提到苹果在中国的增长态势时，Creative Strategies分析师本•巴亚林(Ben Bajarin)表示：“该年的行情本来就很好，至该季度达到高潮。它令人们对中国的看法变得乐观多了……它们在中国的成长空间大于（美国）这里。”目前，中国是全球最大的智能手机市场。
Mr Bajarin’s forecast suggests around 2m more iPhones were sold in China than North America in the quarter. He added that the launch of Apple’s new Watch in China in the coming months was likely to increase the gap.
“They will likely do more in China than US from here on out,” he said. “It certainly shows how important the China market is to Apple’s upside.”
While China’s mobile market is larger and growing faster than in the increasingly saturated US, Apple faces challenges there too, from new competition to run-ins with the Chinese government. The latest iPhones’ Chinese release was delayed by almost a month after a protracted regulatory review process.
China is becoming more important to Apple but that does not mean the iPhone is as significant a player there as it has been on its home turf of the US. Lower-cost devices, most using Google’s Android software, still dominate the Chinese market.