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Why China Helped Apple with Record iPhone First-Weekend Sales

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Apple sells 13 million new iPhones during the first weekend after launch

According to a September 28 press release from Apple (AAPL), the company managed to sell a record 13 million iPhones in the first weekend of the release of the iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus. This is great news for Apple, as it sold about 10 million iPhones in 2014, 9 million in 2013, and 5 million in 2012, all during the first weekend after the release of each new iPhone. The chart below compares iPhone sales for each year, during the first weekend of each device’s release.

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The major driver for this growth for Apple was China (FXI). Apple had released the iPhone 6 and iPhone Plus in China last year after a delay of one month. However, this time, Apple released its two new devices in China as early as possible. In all, Apple released new iPhones in 12 regions this year, compared to ten last year. Both iPhone 6S and 6S Plus have some incremental features over iPhone 6, such as 3D Touch, a 12-Megapixel camera, and Live Photos.

Apple could regain its top smartphone position this quarter

China remains an important market for not just Apple, but also other major US technology companies such as chipmaker Qualcomm (QCOM). Qualcomm earns about half of its revenues from China. According to a report from the IDC[1. International Data Corporation], Apple was the top smartphone player in China in 1Q15, with Xiaomi, Huawei, Samsung (SSNLF), and Lenovo (LNVGY) behind it. However, according to a report from Counterpoint for 2Q15, Apple was ranked third in the smartphone market in China, with Xiaomi and Huawei ahead of it.

The main reason Apple lost its top position in this market is the loss of the novelty factor for the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. However, with the success of the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus, Apple could again become the top smartphone player in China.

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