China Could Overtake U.S. as Top iPhone Market, Analysts Says

There could be some interesting and unexpected takeaways from Apple’s fourth quarter of calendar 2014/first quarter of fiscal 2015 earnings conference call later on today. Aside from the possibility of record iPhone sales figures, it looks like some analysts are expecting Apple to announce that China has overtaken the United States as the leading country in terms of iPhone shipments.

iPhone 6

This is interesting due to the efforts Apple made to capture the Chinese market, which included several meetings-of-minds between Apple CEO Tim Cook and Chinese mobile bigwigs. And it looks like Cook and Apple’s hard work has paid off, as UBS analysts forecast that China took up 36 percent of iPhone shipments , as to 24 percent for the U.S.

Last year, the U.S. took up 29 percent of shipments, as to 22 percent for China. Separate from UBS, Creative Strategies’ own forecasts show that Apple may have sold two million more iPhones in China than it did in the U.S. and Canada combined.

Going back to the earlier point, Cook’s China-centric initiatives included repeated attempts to court China Mobile as a carrier partner. China Mobile is the world’s largest mobile carrier in terms of subscribers, and Apple was only able to forge a deal with the company in December 2013. The iPhone 6 was also the first iPhone released across all three leading Chinese carriers, when it hit Chinese stores in October 2014.

However, it must be mentioned that the figures above pertain to shipments. While a reliable gauge of success, shipments are totally different from sales; the former would be the number of units shipped to carrier and retail partners, while the latter would be the number of units bought by consumers.