I have been waiting for the confirmation and CNBC just said that the total cumulative sales of iPhones on China Unicom has passed 2 million. It was 400,000 by the end of 2009. As regular readers know, all analysts who offered a forecast number of iPhone sales going from Christmas Quarter Q4 sales of 2009 to the Jan-Mar quarter of 2010 (including me) had forecasted a decline in sales. Absolutely every analyst expected a decline (because previous years there was a clear decline after Christmas). And even the USA sales of AT&T showed that exact pattern again in 2010, so it was a 'reasonable' expectation. But there was a mystery 'missing million' iPhone sales in Q1 which was obviously international sales.
I took it to task to study where it was and did some math on Apple's results and its published China numbers. I concluded that missing million was China sales related to Lunar New Year / Chinese New Year sales. I also then found that Nokia reported a Q1 'Chinese New Year' related gift-giving period bonus sales (Nokia Q1 China sales were strongly up, and now in Q2 it was China which is strongly down, also showing a big seasonal jump). The reason we haven't seen this before in China in smartphones, is that it was only in 2009 that China started its 3G networks and the iPhone was introduced late in 2009 for China.
So I promised I'd track the industry and wait for the numbers. Now today CNBC has just said China Unicom cumulative sales of iPhones has passed 2 milliion. As the international sales of iPhones are down 14% from Q1 to Q2, its fair to assume the majority of the new Chinese sales of 1.6 million iPhones were in the first quarter, not the second quarter of 2010. The 'missing million' has been found and now verified.
So now we know there is a 'new' pattern of iPhone sales. Big growth Q3 when the new iPhone has been introduced. Roughly similar level sales in Q4 for Christmas (Western country gift-giving season) and perhaps similar level sales in Q1 of the next year for Chinese New Year gift-giving season. And then a decline of sales in Q2 before the new iPhone model is released..
And who told you first haha.. (yet once again, they again ridiculed me..)