While Apple certainly hasn't been struggling in the U.S. and global markets, Nokia, Samsung, and Huawei are outpacing the iPhone maker in China.
The reason? The Chinese networks can't "fully support" the iPhone and iPad.
China Mobile Ltd. is the largest of the country's three state-owned major telecoms, boasting 600 million subscribers. However, its network (TD-SCDMA) is not compatible with the iPhone. Apple would need to tailor its flagship mobile device to China Mobile's network, but first the two companies must reach a partnership agreement. Easier said than done.
There's also the fact that the majority of Chinese mobile subscribers use their devices exclusively for voice and messaging.
"Only about a tenth of China's almost 1 billion mobile phone subscribers use 3G," Reuters reports.
Considering China is now the world's largest smartphone market, the stakes are high.
But all blame cannot be cast on the telecoms, either. Apple still offers a relatively limited number of iPhone models and it offers little flexibility on pricing for carriers and customers.
So Apple's own limited appeal is also a hurdle. Still, the iPhone is flying off the shelves. It’s just not happening as fast as its more diverse competitors.
While the numbers aren't quite there yet, there's certainly a demand for the device in China. Apple's five flagship stores in Shanghai and Beijing are reporting brisk sales of the iPhone, and there are even fake stores that "look eerily like the real thing."
The market is there, it just comes back to that pesky little carrier problem.
If Apple could come an agreement with China Mobile, whose 4G TD-LTE network is expected to be running by late next year or early 2013, the company would likely see its sales figures rise. Until then, the other guys win.