Speaking at a press briefing on Thursday, China Mobile Chairman Xi Guohua revealed that the company’s growing 4G user base has largely picked Apple’s iPhone over the competition. That’s good news for Apple, which has struggled to compete in China and announced its first partnership with the world’s biggest carrier just last year.
“Most of our 1.34 million 4G users are using an iPhone,” Xi said. “It’s just been getting started for one or two months. So far it’s hard to tell how that will affect our business.”
The good news for Apple actually followed some bad news for the Chinese carrier, which saw its first drop in profits in 14 years as the country’s leading mobile network. The company was slow to roll out its relatively new 4G network, causing some customers to jump ship to smaller carriers including China Unicom and China Telecom, which both offered earlier iPhone models.
In response, China Mobile says it plans to invest heavily in its 4G network, and hopes to sell 100 million devices running on the high-speed service by the end of 2014. The strategy will rely heavily on converting more of its 776 million subscribers over to more expensive 4G contracts. That’s a lot more potential customers for Apple, though we’re sure Samsung, Microsoft and the rest of the competition are looking to China Mobile’s budding high-speed network as a future profit source as well.