Any smartphone and tablet company that thinks it can ignore China is wrong! Traditionally, due to its comparative wealth and size, the USA has been the key market for smartphones and tablets. However new data is showing that as of February 2013, China has more active Android and iOS smartphone and tablet users than the USA.
Go back two years and the situation was like this. The USA had around 60 million active Android and iOS users while China had only a couple of million (very small for such a very large country). However, China has seen tremendous growth and by January 2012 it had reached around 60 million users. But the USA also grew and in the same twelve months, from January 2011 to January 2012, the number of active Android and iOS users in the USA rocketed to around 160 million. But fast forward to today and although the USA has grown to around 230 million users, China has grown even faster. By the end of February 2013 it is estimated that China will have 246 million active devices.
Companies like Amazon are quite US centric. Devices like the Kindle Fire didn’t make it into Europe until almost a year after it was released in the USA. Even today there are certain Kindle Fire devices which aren’t available outside the USA. Others like Samsung and Apple are more international and both companies have significant sales in China, as well as in Europe and the rest of the world.
The usage data comes from Flurry, which is a mobile analytics company. To estimate the number of active users the company, which collects some 2 terabytes of data per day, tracked anonymous, aggregated application sessions from more than 275,000 apps. From this data Flurry estimates that it can reliably measure activity across more than 90% of the world’s smart devices.
It is unlikely that the U.S. will take back the lead from China, mainly because of the vast difference in the populations: China has over 1.3 billion people while the U.S. has just over 310 million. Other than India, which currently doesn’t have a thriving smartphone or tablet market, there are no other countries that could challenge China’s dominance. The country with the most active users, after China and the USA, is the UK followed by South Korea, Japan, Germany and France. However the combined total number of users in these countries is just 152 million.
In short, it could be China’s market trends that drive the models and pricing of future devices more than the USA!