Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Apple continues to its struggles to gain Chinese smartphone market share

Good news is tempered with bad, for Apple. The good news is that the "new iPad" has already sold out its pre-orders. The bad news is that despite efforts, Apple continues to fail to grab more smartphone market share in China.

China's biggest carrier, China Mobile, continues to be excluded from the iPhone sweepstakes as only China Unicom and (starting last week) China Telecom sell the iPhone in that country. Apple has not yet created a version of the iPhone that supports China Mobile's 3G (TD-SCDMA) network. That issue will probably go away when China Mobile completes its 4G LTE testing in June.

For now, though, Apple is officially limited to only about 34 percent of the nation’s 988 million mobile users. China Mobile alone has 655 million subscribers. Earlier in March, however, China Mobile said that despite this, it has 15 million iPhones on its network, with jailbroken and unlocked devices surfin the web at slow 2G speeds.

Meanwhile, Samsung has partnered with all three of China's 3G networks since 3G networks went into service in 2009. With that, it has 24.3 percent of the smartphone market, while Apple has less than 1/3 of that amount, at 7.5 percent.

In fact, Samsung is No. 1 in China, while Apple is only No. 5. Globally, though, Apple passed Samsung in Q4 2011 to become the world's largest smartphone vendor in Q4 2011.

It's not as though demand for the iPhone in China isn't crazy, and in fact some might call it overly crazy. Apple's oldest official Chinese store was the scene of a near riot and pelted with eggs on Jan. 13, the first day of iPhone 4S sales in the country, when it failed to open on time. This led to Apple saying it would suspend sales of iPhones at all its stores.

The phones are still available via Apple's online store in China, but the company hasn't yet provided an update on when its retail stores would resume sales of the devices.

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