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Android, Samsung rule China, the world's largest smartphone market

May 7, 2012

According to a recent report from market research firm Canalys, smartphone shipments in China have doubled year over year, surpassing those in the US for the first time. China is now the biggest smartphone market in the world, accounting for 22% of global smartphone shipments, up from 16% last year. US smartphone shipments rose just 5% year on year, now accounting for 16% of global smartphone shipments, down from 22% last year. Worldwide, smartphone shipment levels have increased by 45% year over year.

Samsung, the new worldwide leader in smartphone sales, is the top manufacturer in China as well, with a market share of 22% of all smartphones sold in China in Q1 2012. This comes in spite of the fact that Apple released the iPhone 4S with two major Chinese carriers. The iPhone was responsible for 19% of the smartphones sold in China during the first quarter.

Nokia, the former world leader, is in third place. The Finnish will attempt to turn the tide as soon as the second quarter, when Nokia’s Lumia devices will launch with a couple of carriers. ZTE, Lenovo, and Huawei are not far behind the big three, as their lines of inexpensive Android smartphones are becoming increasingly popular in the Chinese market.

More than 66% of the smartphones sold in China over the first quarter of 2012 run on Android, as China is now also the biggest Android smartphone market, accounting for more than 25% of worldwide Android shipments. At this point, it should be noted that Android is a totally different animal in China, as the absence of the Google Play (formerly Android Market) app store has instigated the appearance of several competitive third party app stores.

At a hardware level, manufacturers are offering a wide range of Android handsets, tending to multiple price points. Finally, the report notes that online retail is on the rise in China, thanks to an increase in Internet access rates, as well as credit card ownership rates. The three major online retailers in China are, Taobao, and Amazon.

Does it surprise you that China (a country with more than 1.3 billion inhabitants and 1 billion+ phone users) has now become the biggest Android smartphone market in the world? Drop us a line in the comment section below and let us know what you guys think!