China Crowned as the World's Largest Smartphone Market

As we all know, China is the most populous country in the world, with over 1.3 billion citizens. So, it doesn’t come as a surprise that they are also the largest market for smartphones.

According to Strategy Analytics, a global research and consulting firm headquartered in Boston, USA, China has overshot the United States in Q3 2011, to become the world’s largest smartphone market by volume.

This sudden growth in smartphone sales dates back to the previous quarter when the market share in China grew by 58 percent with sales touching 24 million. The US market however fell by seven percent, with just over 23 million handsets sold in the same quarter.

Although the rapid growth trend in China may seem impressive at one glance, studies carried out by Strategy Analytics indicate a few underlying factors that have caused this explosion in sales.

China is flooded with a variety of low-end phones like ZTE smartphones. The infamous Shanzhai brand of smartphones, for example, is an exact replica of well known mobile brands with names such as “Blockberry’ and “Nckia” that are sold to low-end users at cheaper rates.  These heavily subsidized models along with the promotion of 3G data plans by operators have added to the rapid increase in smartphone sales in China.

According to Tom Kang, Director at Strategy Analytics, the growth in market is driven by  factors such as:

  1. Increased availability of smartphones in retail channels
  2. Aggressive subsidizing by operators of high-end models like the Apple iPhones
  3. An emerging wave of low-cost Android models from local Chinese brands such as ZTE

Even though companies like Apple report good growth in China, it’s not their performance alone that has helped China become the world’s largest smartphone market. As can be seen in the table below, Nokia rules the smartphone market in China with an unbeaten 28 percent, with Samsung claiming second place at 17.6 percent. All other brands including Apple, fall under the remaining 54 percent.

HTC on the other hand, heads the US market with a 24 percent market share, as can be seen in the table below. Apple comes second with a 20.6 percent share in the market i.e., a shipped quantity of 4.8 million units in Q3 2011.

According to Neil Mawston, Executive Director at Strategy Analytics, the United States still remains the world’s largest smartphone market by revenue with China overtaking them only in terms of volume of sales. China is now at the forefront of the worldwide mobile computing boom with a growing smartphone market that no hardware vendor, component maker or content developer can afford to ignore.

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