"Pent-up demand" to help drive iPhone 5 sales in China, say analysts

iPhone 5 pre-orders for China Unicom exceed 100,000 reservations on the first day

As Apple prepares to launch its iPhone 5 in China, some analysts expect the product to sell well in the country and possibly even top sales for Apple's previous iPhone models in the country.

Apple will finally launch the iPhone 5 in China on Dec. 14, almost three months after the device went on sale in the U.S. And already pre-orders for the product appear to be high.

On Monday, mobile carrier China Unicom began online pre-orders for the device. By 4 p.m. local time that day, it had received more than 100,000 online reservations, according to one of the company's official microblogs.

Previous iPhone launches have attracted wide consumer interest in China, drawing long lines at Apple stores in Beijing and Shanghai. But in the past two quarters, Apple's iPhone shipments for the Chinese market have declined, causing the company to drop out of the country's top five smartphone vendors, said Teck Zhung Wong, an analyst with research firm IDC.

"This implies there's some level of pent-up demand for the iPhone 5," he said. "We think (increased shipments) will manifest itself this quarter, and next quarter as well."

The launch of the iPhone 5 also occurs two years after the launch of the iPhone 4 in China. Many existing iPhone users' two-year contracts are expiring and so will likely upgrade, Wong said.

Competition is heated in China's smartphone market, with Samsung leading the field. Chinese vendors such as Lenovo, Huawei and ZTE are not far behind, and driving much of the country's smartphone sales are handsets at the lower end, with prices at US$150 and less when bought without a contract. In contrast, the 16GB model of the iPhone 5 will be priced at 5288 yuan (US$842).

But experts have said the iPhone still remains one of the most popular handsets in the country. Nicole Peng, an analyst with research firm Canalys, expects the iPhone 5 will outperform previous iPhone models sold in China.

"It arrives just in time for a major holiday/gifting season in China," she said in an email. Mobile carriers China Unicom and China Telecom will also take advantage of the phone's popularity to attract new subscribers, she added.

For this upcoming launch in China, Apple is slightly raising the price for the iPhone 5. The 16GB model's price is about 300 yuan more ($48), than when the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S was first launched in China. The 32GB and 64GB, on the other hand, will cost about 100 yuan more.

Analysts, however, don't expect the price hike to deter Chinese consumers from buying the device. Many consumers will also choose to buy it from the mobile carriers China Unicom and China Telecom, which offer subsidized contract plans, they add.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags China UnicomAppletelecommunicationconsumer electronicsChina TelecomCarrierssmartphonesiPhone

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Michael Kan

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?