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A Key Driver for Apple: 4G LTE Penetration in China

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Jan. 7 2016, Updated 10:06 a.m. ET

Apple shipped 100 million 4G LTE smartphones to China in 3Q15

One of the most important drivers of Apple (AAPL) growth in China is 4G LTE (fourth-generation Long-Term Evolution). 4G LTE is a high-speed wireless Internet technology for mobile phones. A report from Counterpoint Technology Market Research states that more than 100 million smartphones with 4G LTE technology were shipped to China in 3Q15. That’s an increase of 200% YoY (year-over-year). The total number of Chinese subscribers with 4G LTE now stands at 300 million.

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LTE transition in the United States is almost complete. Verizon stated that approximately 89% of its network traffic is on the 4G LTE network as of October 2015, a YoY increase of 75% in 3Q15. T-Mobile’s (TMUS) 4G LTE network coverage was more than 300 million at the end of 3Q15. Verizon (VZ) constitutes 16.2% of the iShares S&P Global Telecommunications ETF (IXP).

Apple sales in greater China were $58.7 billion in fiscal 2015

Apple (AAPL) recorded sales of $58.7 billion for fiscal 2015 in China. In comparison, sales in fiscal 2013 and fiscal 2014 stood at $27 billion and $31.9 billion, respectively. Sales in China accounted for 25% of Apple’s total revenues in 2015. They accounted for 17.4% and 15.8% in 2014 and 2013, respectively.

Although iPhone sales improved significantly YoY, the company’s market share dropped sequentially in fiscal 3Q15. According to a report from Counterpoint Technology Market Research, Apple’s smartphone market share fell from 17.8% in 1Q15 to 12.2% in the most recent quarter.

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