Apple may have broken sales records last quarter selling 37 million iPhones, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the company’s mobile phone business is booming everywhere around the world. iPhone market share dropped in China for the second quarter in a row, while cheap, locally-produced smartphones take over.
Apple’s smartphone market share in China fell to 7.5 percent last quarter down from 10.4 percent in calendar Q4 2011. There’s two probable reasons for this. While Apple’s classic pay-for-quality works in most parts of the world including here in the states, in China, it’s not doing so hot. Cheaper smartphones made by local brands are slowly swallowing up the Chinese mobile phone market. “Today, an iPhone is more than two months salary,” said Jayesh Easwaramony, a Singapore-based analyst with Frost & Sullivan.
The second reason is that plenty of shoppers are holding off for the iPhone 4S to go on sale. It launched in October in the U.S., UK and a few other select countries which made sales explode in the last quarter, but it didn’t land in China until January 13th. Just like iPhone shipments slipped in Q3 2011 as people awaited a new iPhone model, the same clearly applies to China a quarter later. Q1 2012 should give Apple a boost in the Asian market.
As far as the other handset makers are concerned, Samsung is the number one smartphone vendor in China with 24.3 percent market share — nearly one-quarter of the market. Nokia’s share dropped significantly in 2011 from above 40 percent to below 20 percent. ZTE, an emerging manufacturer, jumped from 3 percent in the beginning of the year to 11 percent by the year’s end. Apple now ranks in 5th place behind ZTE.