Perhaps the biggest risk for Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) investors is the overall economic climate in China. More recently, the overall Chinese economy has started to slow, potentially making it more difficult for Apple to sell $650-plus phones in a region where the GDP per capita is only $8,100 in 2015, according to the International Monetary Fund. In the event the economy slows more, it could present headwinds to Apple's top and bottom lines.
Recently, Chinese President Xi Jinping came out with estimates on the country's growth prospects. According to the state-run news agency, Jinping was quoted as saying the growth rate for the next five years will not be less than 6.5%. Although that sounds phenomenal compared to slower-growth, developed countries like the United States, this is actually down significantly from the 9.5% growth the country registered in 2011 and the mid-7% figures in the following years, according to The World Bank.
This is important for Apple, as the company now counts China as its second-largest market, trailing only North America. On the back of tremendous growth, Greater China pushed by slow-growing Europe. For a visual representation of Apple's growth in China on a quarter on quarter basis, see the chart below:
The growth story isn't over
So, you can see the divergence, here: On one hand, you have what appears to be a slowing Chinese economy. And on the other, a company becoming increasingly dependent upon this country for growth. Per the data, for every dollar Apple grew above its 2014 revenue figures on a year-over-year basis, Apple's China business was responsible for $0.53.
But that doesn't mean Apple doesn't have room to grow. Recently, Kantar released its newest smartphone operating system sales market share data. And the news is somewhat positive for Apple investors. Despite posting four quarters of revenue increases of 70%-plus in China, mainly on the back of iPhone sales, it appears Apple continues to have a runway for growth. Even with the possibility of slowing growth in the addressable market, Apple can continue to grow in the country by taking a larger portion of the market share pie.
And it seems the company is doing just that.
Take for example the recently completed quarter. Although Apple grew its Chinese-related revenue a massive 99%, Kantar reports on a units-sold basis Apple increased its market share less than four percentage points -- from 15.2% sold in the three months ended September 2014 to 19.1% in the three months ended September 2015. These numbers continue to rise and fall, but at no point during that year did Apple's market share exceed 28%.
Here's a visual of Kantar's data:
A lower-price unit could further grow market share
And while I don't expect Apple to become the outright OS market share leader in China, I do think Apple has an ability to continue to grow its market share in the region at the expense of Android. Will those lofty 70% revenue growth rates continue? Probably not, as the easy year-over-year comparisons have now evaporated, but Apple should continue to grow its market share and revenue at a healthy clip.
One of the more intriguing recent rumors may turbo-charge Apple's Chinese gains. According to in-the-know supply chain analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, Apple will release a 4-inch iPhone model at a cheaper price point in what appears to be an attempt to capture mid-range demand. A lower price point product could be a hit among Chinese consumers, although the large screen sizes are certainly popular there.
Earlier, Tim Cook reached out to CNBC host Jim Cramer, letting him know that Apple's not slowing in China like other smartphone vendors and taking some heat in the process. As a former skeptic, I'm no longer worried about Apple's China prospects.
Jamal Carnette owns shares of Apple. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.