China Mobile racked up 100,000 pre-orders for the iPhone 5S and 5C within just two days of inking a deal with Apple. But what does that number really mean?
It means China Mobile isn't doing as much business as it should be, according to Wedge Partners.
As the analysis firm told All Things D, the world's largest mobile carrier should be pulling in bigger sales numbers, based on its 763 million-plus subscribers.
The handsets won't officially launch until 17 January, but local customers are anxious to get hold of the next-generation smartphones. Though maybe not as anxious as China Mobile had hoped.
"What's important to remember is these phones launched in September," Wedge analyst Brian Blair told ATD. "Now here we are several months later and there's no subsidy being offered that's so special that the preorders are off the charts. If this had been in September when the phone launched globally, I think the numbers would be a lot higher."
US buyers, meanwhile, broke records in Autumn 2013, snatching up 9 million new iPhones in the first weekend after Apple's launch.
With more than two weeks until the devices hit Chinese shelves, it's unclear how many more pre-orders the carrier will receive, or what their initial sales figures will be. Estimates for the China Mobile's 2014 iPhone sales currently range from 17 million to 38.7 million, according to ATD.
Apple also has sales agreements with the country's second- and third-place mobile carriers, China Unicom and China Telecom, which respectively counted about 120,000 and 150,000 next-generation iPhone preorders this earlier this year.