The launch of the rumoured iPhone 5C and a partnership with China Mobile could help boost Apple's market share in China, potentially enabling the company to take the top spot from rival Samsung.
Following a survey of 2,000 Chinese mobile phone owners, Morgan Stanley analyst Katy Huberty has concluded that Apple could gain 13 points of market share in China if it launches the iPhone 5C, reducing Samsung's market share by 6.7 points.
Huberty says that Chinese consumer interest in the iPhone is likely to remain steady if Apple continues its high-end strategy by launching just an iPhone 5S.
A total of 23 per cent of the potential smartphone buyers surveyed said that they would choose to buy the iPhone rather than other devices, at an intended repurchase rate for iPhone higher than other smartphones.
But if Apple does launch the cheaper iPhone 5C, it is expected to "drive incremental volume growth," says Huberty.
According to her research, Chinese consumers would pay $486 (£310 or RMB 4,000) for the iPhone 5C. "That's 22 per cent higher than where we think Apple will price it," Huberty adds.
It seems Chinese consumers are willing to pay that bit extra for the iPhone, as the acceptable price ranges for the Samsung S4 Mini and the HTC One Mini in previous surveys were lower than the expected price.
Another factor that could significantly boost Apple's market share in China is a partnership with China Mobile, which almost a third (29 per cent) of the survey's participants said would convince them to purchase an iPhone.
We already know that Apple is concerned about its presence in the Chinese smartphone market. During the company's most recent quarterly conference call, Apple announced a decline in growth in the Chinese market. Since then, Apple CEO Tim Cook has reportedly visited China to discuss market growth and a cheaper iPhone with local carriers.
Plus, reports of a gold iPhone 5S have emerged, a colour that is believed to be aimed at the Chinese market as gold is particularly desirable there at the moment
Sign up for Computerworld eNewsletters.