The first photo leaks of the rumored gold iPhone left many Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL ) fans raising eyebrows. But one reason for the odd color makes a bit of sense.
Adjusting the hue
But first we'll need to clear up some confusion surrounding the rumored gold iPhone. Two things, asserts TechCrunch's MG Siegler.
One, it's not gold -- it's "champagne." This makes quite a difference, believe it or not. Just compare for yourself:
Two, gold is actually a popular color in two very important markets: China and India. In fact, MG Siegler notes that gold is one of the most popular colors for both iPhone after-market color adjustments and cases.
Apple wants China... bad
A champagne iPhone alternative together with the rumored array of different colored options for a lower-cost iPhone, or the so-called iPhone 5C, would mark a substantial deviation from Apple's typical iPhone product line-up. But I think there's a reason for it.
As I've mentioned recently, $465 billion market capitalization or not, Apple still faces tremendous opportunity in China. According to recent data from Canalys, Apple's share of smartphone shipments in China in the second quarter amounted to a palty 4.8% -- there's enormous room for growth.
If China likes gold and if lower-priced smartphones have proven to take the most populous country by storm, then I'm on board with Apple's shift in its iPhone product line strategy. China's a big market, and Apple's sticky ecosystem and powerful halo effect are powerful drivers to creating loyal Apple customers for the long haul. The more new customers Apple acquires today, the better chance they have at creating lifelong transactional relationships with them.
An untapped goldmine
And don't forget: The world's largest wireless carrier, China Mobile, still doesn't carry the iPhone. Perhaps Apple's willingness to adapt to the Chinese market has something to do with its pursuit of this goldmine. The carrier boasts a whopping 740.2 million wireless subscribers, or 63% of China's total users.
Maybe it's just a coincidence, but recent rumors suggest that Apple and China Mobile talks have been making meaningful progress. In fact, China Mobile Chairman Xi Guohua recently told Reuters, "We are actively negotiating and both sides are keen."
With China Mobile as a partner, Apple could make substantial gains in the important Chinese market.
If China likes gold, then bring it on.