Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Apple Extends Foothold in China with Iphone

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Apple Extends Foothold in China with Iphone

Article excerpt

Just about any way you slice it, 763 million customers is a huge potential pie.

On Sunday, Apple and China Mobile announced a deal to bring the iPhone to the Chinese carrier, the largest wireless network in the world, on Jan. 17.

An agreement with China Mobile could, at least initially, give Apple a big lift into the vast Chinese market, analysts say, increasing its worldwide sales.

"China is an extremely important market for Apple and our partnership with China Mobile presents us the opportunity to bring iPhone to the customers of the world's largest network," Timothy Cook, Apple's chief executive, said in a statement.

But the company will face many challenges in capturing the Chinese market.

While Apple's smartphones are dominant in the United States and a major player in Europe, the company has struggled to gain much traction in China, where phones using Google's Android operating system dominate for several reasons, particularly price.

In China, some smartphone makers, like Huawei, Coolpad and ZTE, offer Android phones for less than $100, while Apple lists the iPhone 5C at $739, and the 5S at $871. Apple said it would reveal pricing of the iPhones for China Mobile customers at a later date.

Apple is the No. 5 smartphone player in the country, behind Samsung and the Chinese handset makers Huawei, Lenovo and Yulong.

The slow sales of the iPhone in China are reflected in the overall shrinkage of the company's share of the global smartphone market -- to 12.1 percent in the third quarter, down from 14.3 percent in the same period a year ago, according to the market research firm Gartner.

Meanwhile, Lenovo, the No. 3 player, which sells the vast majority of its smartphones in China, had 5.1 percent of the global market in the third quarter, from 4.1 percent a year ago. Samsung's global share remained flat at 32.1 percent.

Still, analysts were optimistic that Apple would sell a lot of phones through China Mobile, though they offered wide-ranging estimates for how many more. …

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