China Holds Huge Potential for Apple with First Time iPhone Buyers

China isn't just a big market for Apple's iPhone, it has huge potential for new customers. According to Apple CEO Tim Cook, half of iPhone 5S buyers in the country were new to the platform, and the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus look to be in a position to drive that percentage up.

China has huge potential for first time iPhone 6 and 6 Plus buyersChina has huge potential for first time iPhone 6 and 6 Plus buyers

In response to a question about first-time iPhone buyers during Apple's fourth fiscal quarter earnings report, Mr. Cook said, "Look at the 5S, then the top-end phone. 50 percent of Chinese buyers were new to iPhone, 25 percent of U.S. buyers were new."

He added,

On a forward basis, I'd expect a fairly large opportunity to get people buying their first iPhone ever. With 6 and 6 Plus that opportunity increases, not decreases. The upgrade market of people waiting, as we can see from our order backlog, is huge.

Mr. Cook called demand for the new larger screen iPhones "staggering." This year also marked the first time Apple has launched simultaneously on all three major Chinese carriers.

Apple launched the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus in China on October 17, and will add several more countries such as Israel, Poland, Mexico, South Korea, Thailand, and more before the end of October.

The company reported record breaking fourth quarter revenue at US$42.1 billion with earnings at $8.5 billion. Apple sold 39.2 million iPhones during the quarter, up year-over-year from 33.8 million units. Those figures included nine days of iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus sales.

Mr. Cook added that the iPad has the potential to be a gateway to iPhone purchases in China, especially based on how many first-time iPhone 5S buyers there were in the country. "Those numbers are so high," Mr. Cook said, "that I think a great percentage of 6 and 6+ buyers will also be new buyers."