NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Despite a contraction in the Chinese smartphone market so far this year, the downturn in sales is not expected to have a major impact on China becoming Apple (AAPL) biggest revenue region in the near term, according to a report from FBR analyst Daniel Ives.
On Monday, Ives said Apple "is poised to capitalize on what we estimate is over a $150 billion [total market] from China smartphone shipments over the next few years," with particular strength expected from the recent releases of the iPhone 6, the iPhone 6 Plus, apps from Apple's App Store and anticipated sales of the Apple Watch. Ives maintained his outperform rating with a $185 price target.
Ives also noted that Apple's 71% growth in China revenue during its fiscal second-quarter growth, to $16.8 billion, suggests China will overtake the Americas as the company's top geographic revenue area during Apple's 2017 fiscal year. During the first quarter of this year, sales from the Americas made up $21.3 million of Apple's total revenue of $58 million.
Sales of the iPhone are at the heart of Apple's current and future growth in China, the analyst noted.
"The mobile market in China has been a game changer for Apple," Ives said. China "will likely be the main fuel in Apple's growth engine for years to come on the heels of smartphone and wearables penetration."
Concerns have been raised about the strength of the Chinese smartphone market, in particular, as it has been a source of big revenue growth for Apple, Samsung (SSNLF) and other tech giants.
Research firm IDC said Chinese smartphone shipments during the first quarter of 2015 fell by 4% from a year ago, to 98.8 million units. It was the first time in six years that smartphone shipment in China declined on a year-over-year basis, with IDC saying the country's market was showing signs of reaching a saturation point.
Much of the decline was attributed to Samsung, which saw its shipments fall by 53%, to 9.6 million units. During the same period a year ago, Samsung shipped 20.5 million smartphones, giving it almost 20% of the Chinese market share.
However, Apple shipments in China rose 62.1% to 14.5 million smartphones, which made Apple the top smartphone seller in China with market share of 14.7%.