Tim Cook: China to overtake US as biggest iPhone market
The mobile browser market in China has been growing at a robust 73.2 percent rate, reaching a market value of 910 million RMB ($146 million) as of the third quarter of 2012, according to the latest figures from Frost & Sullivan.
The strong market growth has attracted independent browser makers, Internet firms, endpoint manufacturers, and telecom carriers, as well as channel and content providers.
Reflecting this growth, Tim Cook, Apple's (NASDAQ: AAPL) chief executive officer, said last week that he expects China to overtake the United States as the iPhone's biggest market.
"China is Apple's second-biggest market in the world, I believe in the future it will definitely become our biggest market. I cannot accurately predict when that will happen, but I have no doubt that this will happen," Cook told the Chinese news site Sina in an interview quoted by the Financial Times.
Reports last week indicated that Apple would launch a cheaper version of the iPhone, priced from $100 to $150, possibly to attract customers in China and other developing markets, the newspaper noted.
At the same time, Phil Schiller, Apple's head of worldwide marketing, told the Shanghai Evening News, "Despite the popularity of cheap smartphones [in China], this will never be the future of Apple's products."
Apple is still trying to get China Mobile, China's largest mobile operator, to offer the iPhone to its customers. Cook met with China Mobile last week, the company confirmed with Reuters.
A deal with China Mobile could increase sales of the iPhone by 10 million to 16 million units in the first year, according to the Financial Times article.