Visualized: China's Mobile Opportunity for Apple and Google

Surely you've heard this one by now: Apple (NAS: AAPL) is making a killing in China. Even still, incredible growth opportunities remain to be tapped within the Middle Kingdom.

Of course, Apple isn't the only one that will ride the booming wave of Chinese mobility, as Google (NAS: GOOG) Android still dominates the operating system landscape with a 68.4% market share, according to Beijing-based Analysys International.

Those same figures peg iOS's market share at just 5.7% as lower-end offerings continue to gain traction, particularly those around the important 1,000 yuan price point.

China's three largest carriers are China Mobile (NYS: CHL) , China Unicom (NYS: CHU) , and China Telecom (NYS: CHA) , in that order. Their combined mobile subscriber base is 1.01 billion, which covers the majority of the roughly 1.34 billion population. The carriers also provide data on their subscriber bases, including how many use 3G data services, which is useful in calculating 3G penetration rates.


2G Subscribers

3G Subscribers


China Mobile

607.6 million

59.6 million

667.2 million

China Unicom

160.6 million

48.9 million

209.5 million

China Telecom

92.3 million

43.6 million

135.8 million


860.5 million

152 million

1.01 billion

Source: Investor relations. Data as of March 2012. Figures may not add up precisely because of rounding.

Penetration for 3G now sits at just 15% of the total subscriber base, which shows how much opportunity there is for mobile-device growth that will benefit both Apple and Google alike. Well, Samsung will also bank as the top hardware OEM in the world and an estimated 24.3% market share within China.

Even more importantly, 3G adoption continues to accelerate faster than the broader mobile market. It was just 6% in January 2011.


Source: Investor relations.

That 3G adoption curve is pretty striking, and it shows how quickly Chinese consumers are snapping up newer smartphones and 3G capable devices. One thing hidden in Apple's recent earnings report was that Apple sold five times as many iPhones in China as it did a year ago.

China Mobile still has yet to officially offer the device, and the chart shows just how much more important that carrier is. It's only a matter of time.

If the Chinese market plays out like the domestic one, Android might win in market share, but Apple will always win in profit share.

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At the time thisarticle was published Fool contributorEvan Niuowns shares of Apple, but he holds no other position in any company and a short bioto see his holdings and a short bio. The Motley Fool owns shares of Google. The Fool owns shares of Apple.Motley Fool newsletter serviceshave recommended buying shares of Apple, China Mobile, and Google and creating a bull call spread position in Apple. The Motley Fool has adisclosure policy. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe thatconsidering a diverse range of insightsmakes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter servicesfree for 30 days.

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