This week Apple's COO and acting CEO Tim Cook was apparently spotted sauntering into the Beijing offices of China Mobile, the world's largest cellphone network, with 611 million subscribers (that's almost twice the number of people living in the U.S.). As a result, analyst Brian White at Ticondera Securities suggested that Apple's poised to launch an iPhone whose price would appeal to the average Chinese smartphone user.
"We believe the ramp of the mobile Internet in China will be one of the great wonders of the tech world over the next decade," White wrote—should the Chinese catch Apple fever, the size of the potential market is so enormous that iPhone sales there would dwarf sales elsewhere around the globe. Running the numbers, and assuming 100-125 million Chinese buyers, Apple take in $70 billion from Chinese iPhone sales alone—more than 20 times what it earned from China in 2010.
There's also news that Apple may be poised to ship 15 million iPhone 5s in the first month of availability, which is about five times as many as the iPhone 4s it sold in the first month after launch in 2010. The numbers suggest a truly global launch, and the fact that two manufacturers have been contracted to make the device could hint that Apple will offer two versions: The iPhone 5, and a hotly anticipated iPhone Lite, akin to a much-cheaper iPhone 4.
Meanwhile, a new survey of European smartphone buyers suggests that 40% of them are likely to buy an iPhone as their next purchase, compared to 19% future Android buyers and 17% BlackBerry purchasers. The data from these 7,000-plus Europeans is a big slap in the face to Android and will worry Nokia, perhaps, since Europe is one of its strongest markets, but a mere 15% of responders said they were planning on buying Nokia phones.
Those suggestions about a turnaround in Apple's smartphone share are looking more believable by the day.
[Image: Flickr user oscalito]