Electronics Production | August 27, 2012

China on iPhone hype: "meh"

Consumers everywhere love the iPhone. Everywhere? Nope. There is one tiny - sorry - rather large - country where Apple isn’t No. 1 or No. 2—and doesn’t rank even among the Top 5.
Are we talking about some obscure nation where the locals don’t have access to essentials like iPhones? No, we’re talking about the world’s most populous and an increasingly economically vibrant country: China.

In China, Apple ranked in seventh place among smartphone brands during the first half of 2012, according to an IHS iSuppli China Research Topical Report from information and analysis provider IHS.

For Apple, this represents both a challenge and an opportunity. To succeed, Apple must offer products that have pricing and features that appeal to Chinese consumers and that fit in with the country’s wireless business models. If Apple can do this, it stands to cash in on the country’s smartphone market, which is experiencing booming growth.

Apple during the first six months of 2012 accounted for 5.2 million units—or 7.5 percent—of shipments of smartphones for sale in China. This was only about one-third of the share held by the market leader, Samsung, which claimed 20.8 percent of shipments.

Apple came in behind such well-known players as No. 4 Huawei, No. 5 Nokia and No. 6 ZTE, all of whom rank among the world’s top smartphone brands. However, Apple also trailed local brands that are largely unknown as smartphone sellers outside of China, including No. 2 Lenovo and No. 3 Coolpad.

In the Chinese market, Samsung was far ahead of local Chinese manufacturers Lenovo and Coolpad, the only other smartphone suppliers along with Samsung to enjoy double-digit market share for the first half.

International smarts

Together international brands accounted for 46 percent of the China smartphone space in the first half. The other global brands include Nokia from Finland, down to fifth place with 9.1 percent share, after being the top smartphone brand in China during the fourth quarter of 2011; California-based Apple, in seventh place with 7.5 percent share of market, thanks to the iPhone; Motorola of Illinois, in eighth place with 3.5 percent share; Sony of Japan, in 13th place with 1.2 percent share; and LG Electronics of South Korea, in 15th place with 0.7 percent share.

Also considered a foreign brand was HTC, whose headquarters are in Taiwan. HTC was in ninth place with 3.2 percent share.

Aside from Lenovo and Coolpad, the other big Chinese smartphone manufacturers were Huawei Technologies, in fourth place with 9.8 percent market share; ZTE, in sixth place with 8.4 percent share; and Goinee, in 10th place with 1.6 percent share. Local entities Hisense, K-Touch and Oppo were other Chinese brands that occupied the rungs between the 11th to 15th spots.


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