Apple Inc. (AAPL) To Take A Bite Out Of China Mobile’s Profits

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Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s recently signed deal with China Mobile to bring the iPhone to the world’s largest carrier is seen as a win-win for some. However, analysts at Credit Suisse say the effects may not be all good. In fact, they think China Mobile Ltd. (NYSE:CHL) will take a hit because of the subsidies it will probably pay out for each iPhone it sells.

Apple Inc. (AAPL) To Take A Bite Out Of China Mobile's Profits

Apple’s iPhone launches on China Mobile Jan. 17

Credit Suisse analysts Colin McCallum and Jennifer Gao estimate that China Mobile Ltd. (NYSE:CHL) (HKG:941) will pay out about Rmb 10.3 billion in subsidies for the 2014 fiscal year. They’re assuming a 5 million unit volume commitment for 2014 and a subsidy that is similar to what China Unicom and China Telecom pay for the iPhone.

The analysts note that China Mobile has nothing new from Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) that the two other Chinese carriers already have had since September and that Apple already has seen its market share slump because of cheaper handsets. As a result, they don’t seem to be expecting a significant increase in iPhone sales for Apple in China.

Apple gets 100,000 iPhone preorders

Wedge Partners analyst Brian Blair told All Things D this week that he estimates China Mobile took preorders for about 100,000 iPhones over the first two days they were available on its network. But while that sounds like a pretty nice number, he thinks that amount could have been even higher. Despite China Mobile’s massive subscriber base of 760 million, the carrier took fewer iPhone preorders than the other two major Chinese carriers did. In September, China Unicom took preorders for 120,000 iPhones, while China Telecom took about 150,000 preorders.

Of course it is still early, and the iPhone doesn’t even become available on China Mobile’s network for 18 more days. In addition, since the carrier is selling a product that is now months old, the initial rush usually expected with Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) products might not happen. Blair believes that if China Mobile had launched the iPhone in September with the other two Chinese carriers, it would have taken more iPhone preorders than it has.

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