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3G subscribers grew by 79% in China last year

China’s massive growth in smartphone subscribers, highlighted on Tuesday by Cantor Fitzgerald analyst Brian White, comes as Apple launched the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c on China Mobile, the world’s largest wireless provider, last Friday. As a result, White believes Apple is one of the best positioned companies to benefit from the growth opportunities in China. 

Apple’s timing on its years-in-the-making deal with China Mobile may turn out to have been prescient: the country’s middle class is expanding rapidly, and with it the ability to enjoy services such as 3G and now LTE smartphone service. According to a new report from Cantor Fitzgerald analyst Brian White, the country grew its 3G-using cellphone subscriber base by 79 percent in 2013, to a total of 417 million users. This puts smartphone users at about one-third of the current total of cellphone users, estimated to be 1.23 billion. China Mobile, which whom Apple just recently closed a multi-year deal, has the majority of those subscribers with an estimated 780 million customers — and has just under half of the total user base of 3G/LTE customers, making it a vital partner for Apple’s growth in China.

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