Re: "Can't afford to buy apps but can afford to buy the phone"
"One reason is that a large amount of iOS devices in China are ‘jailbroken’, allowing users to download apps for free from alternative ‘app stores’."
Perhaps rather than "can't pay" it is more a question of "won't pay" or "I want to choose"? If the amount of jailbreaking is on the sort of scale hinted at by the article it is possible that the grey market resellers in China (a very significant part of iPhone sales in that country) are routinely offering this as a service to their customers*. If that is the case and the alternative apps are widely available (as implied in the article), then unless Apple can establish the kind of control/influence over its retail distribution in China that it enjoys in Europe and the US, it's app-store model may be under far greater threat in China than anyone (myself included) had so far realised.
*Or a veritable cottage industry of jailbreakers/rooters has arisen - whatever, the end result is the same.