Apple is projected to have moved 69.3 million units of iPhone in fourth-quarter 2014, with China accounting for 35 percent of global sales. If accurate, it would also mean the Chinese market has surpassed the U.S. for the first time to become the biggest iPhone market for Cupertino.
The latest stats come from investment firm UBS and indicate a new record smartphone sales for Apple, following the launch of its iPhone 6 and 6 Pluslast September.
Citing a note from UBS analyst Steven Milunovich sent out to investors Wednesday, Apple Insider reported that the new figures would indicate a 36 percent spike in iPhone sales, or 18.3 million more iPhone units over the same quarter in 2013.
Apple has yet to release its latest quarterly results--scheduled for January 27--and does not typically break down figures of specific product model. UBS generates its calculations from its proprietary UBS Evidence Lab iPhone Monitor, which estimates from search results tracked in more than 20 countries and country data from Gartner Market Statistics. Adjustments also are made for quarterly factors and seasonal demand.
In his note, Milunovich said the data suggested Apple saw "outsized growth" for iPhones in China where the smartphone accounted for 22 percent of sales in the same quarter 2013, compared to the projected 35 percent in 2014.
"China Mobile's distribution agreement with Apple was signed in late-December 2013 and Apple began shipping the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus in October. So it seems reasonable that demand in China surged relative to other regions," he said.
Apple had opted to exclude the Chinese market in the first wave of launch countries to access the iPhone 6, even though it did so for the iPhone 5c and 5s.