According to a Stifel report on upcoming earnings from Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), investors might finally see a significant positive from the company’s deal with China Mobile. According to a report from China Mobile this morning, the company added 1.45 million 4G customers in Apple’s second quarter. Most of that rise may be attributable to iPhone sales.

Apple China Mobile Deal

An extra 1.5 million or so iPhone sales won’t change the world for Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) shareholders, but it could form an incremental positive in what may be an otherwise bleak quarter. The company’s smartphone and tablet growth is sluggish or stalling on all fronts, and revenue is expected to come in flat, or slightly below for the second quarter.

China may be the final frontier for the iPhone

According to the Stifel report, Apple has about 59% of the 4G market in China. Given that share China Mobile could have added 850,000 iPhone sales on that network alone in the first three months of 2013. The question is whether pent up demand was released by new-found iPhone availability on the network. The analysts admit that rumors of a coming large-screen iPhone could be driving an increase in pent up demand in the world’s second biggest economy.

China has long been touted as the salve for Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) wounds. The country is not that, as evidenced by the lack of exceptional numbers coming out of China Mobile. It is, however, a place with a large high income population and low rates of iPhone ownership. Apple should be able to sell enough smartphones there in the next couple of years to make up for a slowdown in the Western world, and possibly even maintain a small level of growth in its iPhone division.

Apple results shun positivity

Despite the chances of an increase in iPhone sales coming from China, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) second quarter earnings are unlikely to be a bed of roses. The company’s future revenue may be dominated by sales of the iPhone, but it seems that its future growth will not. Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) needs to look elsewhere in order to secure the confidence of its investors.

There are several rumors floating around about what Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) will seek to do with its massive cash pile and its massive research spending. The company may release new hardware, like an iWatch, or it may seek a greater role in software and services, like mobile payments. Either way, second quarter earnings are unlikely to contain much evidence of these projects, apart from a ballooning R&D budget.

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) investors have seen the company’s share price stall along with the growth of the smart phone sector, and many have sold out after failing growth ailed the company time and time again in the last two years. Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) shares have underperformed the wider market by more than 40% in the last twenty-four months.