China Mobile Stocks 1.4 Million iPhone 5s Units Ahead of Friday's Launch
Apple's iPhone 5s assembler Foxconn has shipped roughly 1.4 million iPhone 5s units to China Mobile in advance of Friday's launch for the carrier, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal. After several years of negotiations, Apple finally announced last month that the iPhone would be coming to the world's largest carrier on January 17.
While the initial shipment volume doesn’t represent the total sales at China Mobile for January, the figure helps to gauge early demand for iPhones from China Mobile, the world’s biggest carrier by subscribers with more than 760 million customers. China Mobile began taking preorders for iPhones since Dec. 25.
“Shipping one million or more iPhones to a single carrier per month is substantial. But we have limited visibility beyond this month as Apple hasn’t informed Foxconn of the volume for the next shipment to China Mobile,” said the person.
China Mobile will also launch the iPhone 5c on Friday, but early shipment numbers for that device have not been revealed. Pegatron serves as Apple's primary assembly partner for the iPhone 5c.
Estimates of Apple's potential iPhone sales on China Mobile have varied widely from 10-30 million units this year, with some suggesting that sales may be lower than expected due to demand having been partially satisfied through the country's other two carriers, China Unicom and China Telecom, and waning enthusiasm for the iPhone amid increased smartphone choices in the country.
On the other hand, China Mobile already has tens of millions of iPhones operating unofficially on its network but unable to take advantage of the fastest speeds due to technological incompatibilities between older devices and the carrier's network. As a result, there is already a substantial base of iPhone users on China Mobile who may be looking to upgrade in the near future.