The total number of 3G subscribers in China, as of November: 222 million. Up 88% year-over-year. Those numbers tell the story of why the market is important to the continued growth of the Apple iPhone.
Analyst Brian White with Topeka Capital Markets offered a closer look this week at the latest stats on mobile subscribers in China. In particular, he noted that China Mobile’s 3G subscriber growth has been hurting because the carrier does not offer Apple’s iPhone.
China Mobile represents 64% of the total wireless subscribers in China, but has only 37% of China’s 3G users. That’s down from 41% just a year ago.
“China Mobile is the only major carrier in China that does not have a relationship with Apple to sell the iPhone,” White said in a note to investors. “We still expect Apple and China Mobile to announce an agreement for the iPhone in 2013.”
China Telecom and China Unicom, the two carriers who do offer the iPhone, saw their 3G subscribers double year-over-year as of November. Both carriers launched the iPhone 5 on December 14th. A record setting 2 million devices were sold in the opening weekend.
White expects the total number of 3G subscribers in China to reach at least 230 million by the end of 2012, projecting between 325 million and 350 million 3G subscribers will be in the market by the end of 2013.