China’s Smartphone Market – What Will Dominate??

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Despite all the hype, Android is still small among different smartphone platform in China. Researcher estimated there were only about 250,000 – 280,000 Android phones China, at the end of October. Nevertheless, industry experts have high hope in the free and open-source OS. Many phone manufactures have embraced it as the de-facto smartphone OS, as it allows them to easily control applications preload and distribution. HTC, Motorola, Samsung, and Chinese local phone markets, such as Lenovo, Huawei, ZTE, Meizu, Coolpad, etc., have all launched their version of Andriod phones.

MediaTek, which supplies the chipset of about a quarter of all mobile phones in China, has also started shipping Android supported chips since October. This will make Android affordable to the mass market. Already, there are Android phones selling at RMB 1000 (about US$140) a piece in Shenzhen. Many expected next year, Android phones will flood the China market.

Surprisingly, there are more Blackberry than Android phones in China. Researchers estimated there are more than 300,000 Blackberry phones in China. Blackberry has been the love of bankers and traders since day one. As long as they survive (and no doubt they will no matter how many market crash there will in the future), Blackberry will always find its fans.

As of Apple’s iPhone, which started the whole mobile internet revolution in the West, experts believe it will remain a niche market for high end users in China. Its price, about RMB5000, is too high for the common white collars, who are earning about RMB3000-5000 per month. Researchers estimated currently there are about 1-2 million iPhone supplied by the official channel, China Unicom, and another 3-4 million imported from places like Hong Kong and U.S.

Although many have little faith in Nokia’s Symbian platform, experts believe it will remain a significant player, if not the largest. Finally, Window mobile, which almost everyone has forgotten until Microsoft launched WP7, experts believe it will capture certain portion of the high end market, together with iPhone and some of the most expensive Android phones.

By the way, Data Center of China Internet (DCCI) has forcasted by 2013, there will be more smartphones sold in China than the feature phones (the not-so-smart ones). Currently, the researcher said smartphone only accounts for 16% of the market. The following chart is DCCI’s forecast. (The blue indicate feature phone and the orange smartphone. Click to enlarge the chart.)

Source: DATA CENTER OF THE CHINA INTERNET

Author of Red Wired: China's Internet Revolution, the first book to completely survey the nature of China's internet. (http://redwiredrevolution.com/) She previously was the lead China technology reporter for South China Morning Post, one of Asia’s largest English-language daily newspapers. Her work allowed her to witness the rise of China’s Internet sector first hand and to talk to many of the entrepreneurs and industry experts. Currently she is an independent consultant and writer. She regularly writes on issues concerning China internet and technologies in Asia Times and Hong Kong Economic Journal. She graduated at the University of Hong Kong before earning a MBA at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.