Android leads over Apple in China's smartphone race

Android leads over Apple in China's smartphone race

Summary: Android has outrun Apple in the China mobile platform market share race, as it comes close to claiming nearly 70 percent of the smartphone market.


Google's Android mobile operating system was China's most popular platform in 2011, with its market share ballooning by 35 percent in the space of less than a year.

Beijing-based research analytics firm Analysys International said by the end of 2011, Android had 68 percent of the smartphone operating system market, a figure up from 33 percent only three quarters before, representing a clear double in growth amongst the Chinese market.

China has the world's largest mobile phone market --- with a population of around 1.3 billion, and an estimated 988 million mobile phone subscribers.

While the iPhone remains popular in China, Android devices come in many shapes and sizes, and are on the whole far cheaper and more flexible in their capabilities than the iPhone.

While China is still two or three years away from issuing licenses for 4G LTE in the country, top-end 4G-capable Android devices are left behind, unable to reach the super-fast mobile broadband speeds. The iPhone 4S does not have 4G LTE technology, but Apple is expected to add the capability in the next-generation iPhone 5, following the lead from its younger sibling, the iPad 3.

But China has yet to see a widescale rollout of the iPhone yet. The country's biggest mobile carrier now has over 15 million iPhone users, while many refused to switch carriers from the China Unicom exclusive carrier, ZDNet's Hana Stewart-Smith reports, leading to an initial decline in uptake.

China remains Apple's second-most important market after the United States, cemented by chief executive Tim Cook's visit to the region last month. Cook met with the Chinese vice-premier and toured the controversial Foxconn plant where Apple builds its shiny rectangles for the vastly Western consumer market.

China contributed more than 16 percent, or $4.5 billion, to Apple's earnings in Q4 2011, putting the country ahead of the entire 27 member state collective of the European Union.

Apple saw its China market share rise from 4.1 percent in the first quarter to 5.7 percent by the end of the fourth quarter, signalling a rise but of little significance considering China's vast population numbers.

Image credit: Elizabeth Phung/Flickr.


Topics: China, Android, Smartphones, Mobility, Mobile OS, iPhone, Hardware, Google, Apple, Wi-Fi

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  • Umm

    Andoid leads over Apple in pretty much every country out there... If you know of one it doesn't lead, please share it.
    • There is not such country as far as I know (except for probably Monaco, ...

      ... Emirates and such).

      Another thing is that Zack reports this news for the second time already. And for the second time I have to mention that this estimation is from 2011, when iPhone 4S was not even released in China yet, nor additional cell network carrier was available. Both matters were solved in 2012Q1, so Apple's share on Chinese smartphone market [b]significantly grew[/b] already. (Not to surpass share of Android, of course -- due to how many cheap $$100-200 devices are sold.)
  • "shiny rectangles", with (almost) trademark rounded corners

  • factors....

    One could also consider the very real factors of: 1. Apple makes 2 mobile products vs. other PHONE makers many models. 2. Apple just updates the "same" product that never changes in looks or design. Maybe the background might change.

    One of the many features of android is customization of the product. Not only in product shape and design but, UI layout, widgets and other nifty add-ons that you can't even think of unless you own a jailbroken iphone. If iphone users left their phones default, and set them down, moved them around, how would you tell the difference between who's phone was who's if they were both an iphone 4? Nevermind THIS time they have a white or black version....
    • "If iphone users left their phones default"

      Wouldn't that be true for any model/OS?

      As for customization, I get the feeling that the majority of Android supporters on ZDNet (and online in general) either drastically overestimate the average user or drastically exaggerate the average user's interest (or awareness) in Android's customization abilities beyond apps, backgrounds, themes, ringtones, etc. Don't get me wrong, if you're an IT guy who likes (and has time) to tinker, then Android's the right choice for you, but an overwhelming majority of Android user's fall far outside that description.
      • actually I find

        that to be untrue especially among girls. I know more than one who bought an iPhone to join in on the whole hype and such only to be dissapointed when they couldn't arrange their phone like they could on their Droids. and many, which surprised me, girls were actually complaining about the screen size. '
        People like to make their phone "theirs". I think what is seriould over exaggerated and overestimated is how "difficult" Android is. It's alot easier then you iPHans like to lead people believe that is.
      • So android is the girly phone? Classic


        Just saying....

        Pagan jim
        James Quinn
      • Android Customization is Real & Easy :

        You DON'T have to Root your Android phone to make it Completely Different from other Androids : it's called Launchers. Launchers allow you to by-pass the built-in launcher ( Sense for HTC, Touchwiz for Sammy , etc.). A VERY Popular launcher made by a Chinese group is called " Go Launcher ". You can have up to 9 screens, different transition effects and more. "Go" has an Entire Collection to back it including Dozens of Themes, Widgets & Tools making it Very Easy to make Your Android Phone Truly YOU! Not only that, but my HTC Sensation runs Faster & Smoother than using HTC's Sense Launcher. Other Very popular launchers are ADW & the popular Launcher Pro. Most launcher users boast of faster & smoother transitions as well. (none can best the pure Nexus experience yet, imho. So, you could have 4 people with the Samsung Galaxy S2 and SEE 4 Completely Different appearances. Go is especially nice with their Hundreds of apps!
  • Ah yes the android vs Apple thing. One is an actual company.

    The other simply an OS used by many different companies. So of course it makes sense to compare them right? It's classic Apples vs something else all together:P What's even more interesting is it's a numbers game not a profit game because profit is not important while volume is right? I mean how can a company care any little bit about it's bottom line how could that matter? Especially when android does not represent a single company but a host of them each selling at razor thin margins to get that all important volume number up! Why I can't tell you but it's IMPORTANT you see!!!! While poor Apple does not have the VOLUME of a host of companies no the combined volume of the many does not benefit Apple but what Apple does have is with it's volume of one a huge profit per sale and good solid "after sales" revenue that many if not all of the other companies selling android products do not get even a little bit of:) Ah math.

    Pagan jim
    James Quinn
  • so if this article

    is headlined about how Android has 70% of the market, why then is the article itself 90% about apple and how China is important to apple.

    egads Zdnet, not every blog has to be a love affair with all things apple.
    • Yes... yes it does:)

      Pagan jim
      James Quinn
  • Wow....

    68% market share in a market as important as China? That's incredible. Truly goes to show how dominant Android is in emerging markets, which is important because that's where most of the future growth is coming from.