Lenovo to oust Samsung, become China’s top smartphone maker in 2013

Lenovo Smartphone S2

PC maker Lenovo is currently the number two player in the Chinese smartphone market, but that may change very soon. A report by Gartner claims that, by 2013, Lenovo is projected to become the top handset manufacturer in its home market of China. The research firm released a statement on Wednesday outlining Lenovo’s advantages in the Chinese smartphone industry that could boost the manufacturer to snag Samsung’s throne.

“It is the only local smartphone player that can compete with top global brands in China, thanks to its household brand recognition, nationwide distribution, strong portfolio and reasonable pricing,” Garner said in its statement.

The company is currently placed ahead of Apple in China’s handset market, and its target consumer audience will be one of the factors that could drive it to the top.

“The brand is positioned at the mid-to-lower end which will drive much of its future growth, and this is where global brands are less competitive,” the statement read.

It’s worth noting that Lenovo’s smartphone products have gained significant traction in China over the past year, as its market share has risen from 1.7 percent in the third quarter of 2011 to 14 percent in this year’s third quarter. Apple, by point of comparison, claims 6.9 percent of the smartphone market share in China. Samsung accounts for 16.7 percent, putting it ahead of Lenovo by a mere 2.7 percent.

But Lenovo isn’t the only company expected to see a growth come 2013. Next year, China’s entire smartphone market could double that of the United States. According to data from China-based startup incubator Innovation Works, factors such as the availability of 3G networks and the decrease in smartphone prices could greatly increase China’s smartphone market. Broadband wireless coverage is now available in 58 percent in China, and the cost for an “acceptable Android phone” has fallen to about $100.

“Smart phones are now spreading like wildfire,” writes Kai Fu Lee, CEO of Innovation Works, whose report was published on LinkedIn and Business Insider.

About one year ago China saw less than 50 million smartphone users in its market, according to the data. This year, however, is expected to reach an installed base of 250 million active smartphones. That number could double to 500 million next year, Lee writes.

Interestingly enough, Innovation Works does not mention Lenovo as one of the major players that could benefit from the expansion of China’s smartphone market. Lee predicts that Apple will “take a healthy and lucrative minority share” and mentions that some chipset and phone manufacturers will “have a field day,” but does not specify any particular companies.