China is a country that the media tends to ignore, which is something that deeply troubles us. According to VentureBeat, China became the world’s largest smartphone market during the second quarter of 2012. That means, for all intents and purposes, China is where handset makers should be focusing all their efforts. Right now Samsung dominates the Chinese smartphone market, owning a nice 16.7% chunk of the market. In second place is Lenovo, one of the local brands that you might recognize as a PC maker. They have 14.8% of the market to themselves. Can Lenovo overtake Samsung?
The analysts at Gartner say yes. They say the change of power will happen in 2013, but they don’t specify which quarter. What kind of devices are going to drive Lenovo to the top? Unsurprisingly, it’s the mid to low end devices. There’s a magic number in China: 1,000 RMB, which translates to roughly $160. Many of the Android phones that are being purchased in China right now are in that price range. It’s a high volume low margin game, so what better company to address that market segment than a local player?
We’d like to remind you that in China, 90% of the smartphones sold run Android, so regardless if Lenovo becomes the new head honcho or not is sort of irrelevant when you think about the ecosystem in general. What’s important is what the local players do to Android in terms of ripping out Google’s applications and replacing it with Chinese equivalents.
That may be more damaging to Google than they initially estimated.