Apple lower amid report of muted China Mobile demand, price concerns

|About: Apple Inc. (AAPL)|By:, SA News Editor

Sell on the news? After rallying on Wednesday following reports of solid China Mobile iPhone pre-registrations - CNBC reported 1.2M - Apple (AAPL -1.1%) is trading lower on launch day.

The NYT reports "only about a dozen customers" showed up at a Beijing store to buy iPhones, in spite of an appearance by Tim Cook, and that the huge lines accompanying some past Apple launches haven't existed.  Launch pictures posted by journalist Jahangir Naina appear to show healthy interest.

China Mobile's pricing is raising eyebrows. The carrier, which has an ARPU in the ~$10/month range, is selling the 16GB iPhone 5S for RMB5,288 ($874) unsubsidized, and for RMB5,488 ($907) with a 2-year, $23/month contract (its cheapest iPhone contract plan). The WSJ observes China Unicom and Telecom offer cheaper iPhone plans.

With the iPhone squaring off against Android phones that (per research firm Umeng) carry an unsubsidized ASP of just $233 within China, China Mobile's pricing/subsidy support could have a big impact on whether the carrier is able to hit bullish sell-side forecasts for 20M+ 2014 iPhone sales.