Apple IPhones Sales in China Outsell the U.S. for First Time

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Apple Inc. sold more iPhones in greater China than in the U.S. for the first time, buoyed by the New Year gift-giving holiday as the larger-screened smartphones found eager buyers in Asia.

While the Cupertino, California-based tech company doesn’t break out iPhone shipments by country, Chief Financial Officer Luca Maestri confirmed the sales in an interview Monday, after the company reported record profit during the first three months of the year. He didn’t give specific unit sales figures.

“The progress we’ve made in China has been remarkable and we continue to make incredible investments in China,” Maestri said. “The growth rate in China is significantly higher than most parts of the world. In the short-term, we don’t expect China to become bigger than the U.S. but over the long arc of time, you could certainly draw that conclusion.”

The success of the iPhone in China along with last week’s rollout of the Apple Watch underscore the importance of Chinese consumers for Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook’s efforts to keep up sales momentum. Revenue rose 27 percent to $58 billion in the fiscal second quarter, topping analysts’ average projection for $56 billion, according to estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

Cook said Apple is on track have about 40 stores in greater China by the middle of 2016, up from the current 21. He has also said China is poised to overtake the U.S. as Apple’s biggest market at some point.

“By everything I can see, we did extremely well,” Cook said of Apple’s sales in China during a conference call following the results.

“Our big question is what happens in China for the next few quarters?” said Ben Bajarin, an analyst at Creative Strategies LLC. “Are they on par with the U.S.? At some point in time, it feels like it is inevitable that every quarter iPhone in China will be bigger than the U.S.”

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