Report: Foxconn ships 1.4M iPhone 5s units to China Mobile ahead of launch

Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) main iPhone supplier Foxconn shipped 1.4 million iPhone 5s units to China Mobile last week, according to the Wall Street Journal, in anticipation of China Mobile's Jan. 17 launch of the iPhone for the first time.

iphone 5c

iPhone 5c

The report, citing an unnamed source, said that while the initial shipment volume doesn't equal total iPhone sales at China Mobile for January, the figure could indicate early demand for the iPhone at the carrier. China Mobile, with around 760 million subscribers, is one of the last major carriers that does not currently offer the iPhone. The operator has been taking preorders for iPhones since Dec. 25.

"Shipping 1 million or more iPhones to a single carrier per month is substantial. But we have limited visibility beyond this month as Apple hasn't informed Foxconn of  the volume for the next shipment to China Mobile," the source told the Journal. China Mobile declined to comment, according to the report.

The China Mobile iPhones will support its TD-LTE and TD-SCDMA networks. China Mobile officially launched TD-LTE service last week after Chinese regulators granted TD-LTE licenses to the carrier, as well as to its smaller rivals China Unicom and China Telecom. The addition of the iPhone on China Mobile's TD-LTE network, which uses 2.5 GHz spectrum, makes it likely that Apple will eventually introduce an iPhone model that supports Sprint's (NYSE:S) LTE service on the 2.5 GHz spectrum.

Financial analysts have said recently they expect Apple to sell anywhere from between 17 million to 24 million additional new iPhones, and perhaps more, through China Mobile in 2014.

Meanwhile, returning to the U.S. market, a new study from Consumer Intelligence Research Partners indicates that that the iPhone 5c is grabbing less market share Apple's iPhone 4S did a year ago when it was Apple's mid-range iPhone device, according to Re/code. The iPhone 5s has taken more share of the market than the iPhone 5 did in its first full quarter on the market, the study found.

The iPhone 5s accounted for 59 percent of October through December U.S. sales, according to the study, up from the iPhone 5's 50 percent of sales in 2012. The iPhone 5c captured 27 percent of sales, less than the 32 percent that the iPhone 4S had a year ago. CIRP's findings are based on a survey of 500 buyers of Apple gear during the survey period, according to Re/code.

For more:
- see this WSJ article (sub. req.)
- see this Re/code article

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Analyst: Apple's iPhone 5s top-selling smartphone across Tier 1 U.S. carriers
Kantar: Demand for iPhone 5c in U.S. coming from lower-income households
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