How Apple’s iPhone beat China’s grey market

August 22, 2014, 12:43 PM UTC

The attached chart, created from exclusive Alibaba Web usage data by Creative Strategies‘ Ben Bajarin, shows Apple taking charge of its own iPhone sales in the world’s largest mobile phone market.

The blue (iPhone 4) and green (iPhone 4S) lines represent devices that were likely purchased secondhand or through China’s powerful grey market.

Today, the dominant iPhone is the iPhone 5S — a phone that was probably purchased new, according to Bajarin, in a perfectly orderly fashion.

430402938261Things have come a long way since the reseller riots at the launch of the iPhone 4S in Beijing.

“This is a monumental moment for Apple in the region,” writes Bajarin. “The iPhone being available now on most major network providers in China is a help. The 5s running on the China Mobile 4G network, which they are pushing pretty hard, plus the fact the iPhone 5s is the most recent device, is a help.”

“I remain entirely convinced,” he concludes, “that Apple is in full control of their destiny in the region.”

LINK: iPhone and iOS Usage in China

Follow Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Twitter at @philiped. Read his Apple (AAPL) coverage at or subscribe via his RSS feed.