China pushed ahead of the US for the first time in terms of the number of smartphone shipments, with a total of 23.9 million devices being delivered to operators in the country during the third quarter, compared to 23.3 million in the US.
Data from research firm Strategy Analytics showed that in China smartphone shipments increased by a sizable 58 percent over the previous quarter, whereas in the US they fell by 7 percent.
Strategy Analytics director Tom Kang pointed to the wider availability of smartphones in retail channels, aggressive subsidizing by providers of high-end phones such as Apple’s iPhone and the emergence of low-cost Android models as reasons for the rapid growth in China’s smartphone market.
Nokia currently enjoys the biggest share of the country’s smartphone market, with 29 percent of all sales in the third quarter, though both Samsung and Apple are threatening the Finnish company’s dominance.
If Apple can strike a deal with China Mobile, the largest carrier on the planet with more than 600 million subscribers, expect the Cupertino company to make significant inroads in the market. China Mobile and Apple are currently in talks over a possible deal.
In the meantime, China Telecom could release the iPhone 4S in the early part of next year, which would also boost Apple’s share of the market in the Asian country. China Unicom, the second biggest carrier in China, is currently the only iPhone carrier in the country.
Strategy Analytics executive director Neil Mawston commented on the company’s findings, saying, “China is now at the forefront of the worldwide mobile computing boom.”
He continued, “China has become a large and growing smartphone market that no hardware vendor, component maker or content developer can afford to ignore.”