Apple’s iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus remain extremely popular in China and Hong Kong, continuing to draw the crowds even though they have been on the market for about six months. Shops in China are also preparing for the Apple Watch, which becomes available for purchase on April 24.
Demand for Apple’s iPhone 6 still strong
In a report dated April 6, Cantor Fitzgerald analysts Brian White and Isabel Zhu provided the details of the fifth day of their tech tour in China and Taiwan. They visited Apple Stores, mobile carrier stores and consumer electronics resellers and retailers with a goal of gauging iPhone 6 demand and interest in the Apple Watch.
According to them, stores in Hong Kong are still seeing long lines for consumers waiting to buy an iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus. In fact, the iPhone line in one of the Apple Stores there started outside the store and snaked its way through the inside of the store. The estimated wait time was 90 minutes up to two hours. At one of the other Hong Kong stores, the wait time was more than an hour.
Anecdotally, they also noted that the Apple Store in Shenzhen seemed busier than what they have seen in the past. The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus became available for purchase in China on Oct. 17 and Hong Kong on Sept. 19. Because of how long the phones have been on the market, they say clearly this product cycle is especially strong compared to past iPhone product cycles.
Preparing for the Apple Watch’s arrival
The Cantor Fitzgerald team also reported evidence that stores in China are anxiously looking forward to the release of the Apple Watch on April 24. Most authorized and non-authorized Apple resellers are planning to start selling the smartwatch on that date. Many of them had ads for the watch on the walls of their stores. They also say the appearance of Apple Watch clones indicates the Chinese market is anxious for the Apple Watch’s arrival.
On one street alone, the analysts saw about 50 different stores with Apple products for sale. The focus was clearly on the iPhone, with a secondary focus on the upcoming Apple Watch. The Apple Stores in China and Hong Kong are planning to start showing off the smartwatch on April 10, just as the stores in other parts of the world are also planning to do. Preorders for the watch will start being taken on that date.
The Cantor Fitzgerald team also said China might end up being the “dark horse” in terms of Apple Watch sales in the next 12 to 18 months. They noted that as only a small penetration percentage of China’s 1.3 billion people will be needed to push incremental demand for the smartwatch.
Apple’s share of China’s smartphone market still rising
In another report also dated April 6, Stifel analyst Aaron Rakers and his team noted that the latest data from Kantar Worldpanel indicates that Apple’s share of the U.S. smartphone market continues to be strong. It did decline, but no more than what would be expected as a result of the end of the most recent iPhone product cycle. As of the end of February, Apple’s share was 38.8%, compared to January’s 42.8% share of the market.
The Stifel team found Apple’s share of the market in China as being more interesting, as it continues to ramp up. The data indicates that Apple’s share of China’s smartphone market rose to 27.6% for the three months ending in February. The three months ending February 2014 saw Apple with a 17.9% share of the Chinese smartphone market (Graph is courtesy Stifel).
As of this writing, shares of Apple were up 1.43% to $127.13 per share.