Saturday, December 08, 2012

Apple drops two spots to No. 6 in China

The iPhone dropped to No. 6 among smartphones in China during the third quarter, as price continued to be a key driver in the market, and as it faced tough competition from Chinese brands, market research firm IDC said on Thursday.

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Although China's smartphone shipments hit a record high, at more than 60 million units, Apple saw its third-quarter ranking by market share drop two places from No. 4, where it sat in the second quarter. Apple's market share dropped under 10 percent in the third quarter, IDC added.

There is probably some good news upcoming for Apple in Q4, though. IDC analysts -- and probably everyone -- expect Apple's share to rebound with when the iPhone 5 launches in China this month. Apple last week received approval from regulators for the sale of the iPhone 5 in the country, and the launch date has been set for Dec. 14.

The top five smartphone makers in the country are, as of Q3, Samsung Electronics, the world's No. 2 PC maker Lenovo, Coolpad (a Chinese brand), ZTE, and global No.2 telecom equipment maker Huawei.

Wong Teck-zhung, a senior market analyst at IDC, said, "Chinese vendors Coolpad, Lenovo and ZTE made it to the Asia Pacific ex-Japan top 5 vendors on strong performance in their home market, showing that it is not impossible for Chinese vendors to surpass international vendors."

Jeff Lorbeck, senior vice president for U.S. mobile chip maker Qualcomm's product management, told reporters in a conference on Thursday, told reporters the key: "Price continues to be king. The local China brands are becoming increasingly important in both the carrier channels and open-market channels, so a lot of the tier 1 global brands are being displaced by China's local brands."

It's hard for Apple, currently sold on China Unicom and China Telecom, but not on China Mobile, the No. 1 carrier in the world, to match the prices of Chinese phones. Some Chinese vendors are offering smartphones in the sub-1,000 yuan ($160) range.

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