Apple drops out of China top 5 smartphone list

Low-cost Chinese smartphone player, Yulong, debuts at third position in China's smartphone vendor ranking for third-quarter 2012, pushing Apple out of the list.
Written by Liau Yun Qing, Contributor

Apple dropped off the top 5 smartphone vendor ranking in China in the third quarter of 2012, edged out by local low-cost smartphone player Yulong Computer Telecommunication Scientific which made its debut at third place.

Citing research from Canalys, a Computerworld article Wednesday reported Apple had dropped out of its fifth placing to sixth during the third quarter. Apple's shipment share in the Chinese smartphone market dropped to 8 percent, from 9 percent in the previous quarter.

Samsung remained the top smartphone vendor in China with 14 percent share in terms of shipment, while Lenovo held on to second with 13 percent share, said the report.

Speaking to Computerworld, Nicole Peng, analyst at Canalys, said Yulong managed to move into the top 5 list for the first time with about 10 percent market share. Shipment of the local Chinese phonemaker's Coolpad brand of smartphones had been increasing steadily due to its broad product profile and low-end handsets priced below US$100, Peng said.

She noted Yulong had been performing well due to its partership with operators China Telecom and China Mobile during the third quarter.

Local Chinese vendors ZTE and Huawei took fourth and fifth positions with about 10 percent each, she added.

Peng said: "[The Chinese vendors] are selling their devices at a very low price which can attract first-time smartphone users. Apple's iPhone is still very expensive and it kind of limits their expansion in the country when the target audience of where the growth is coming from is at the low-end."

Another analyst firm, IHS, in August also placed the iPhone in seventh position during the first half of 2012, while IDC said Apple's share in China almost halved during the second quarter as it dropped from second to fourth place.

While China is Apple's second largest market worldwide, the vendor has yet to launch the latest iPhone 5 in the country. CEO Tim Cook, however, said the device would be made available there in December.

Previous generations of the iPhone were supported only on the networks of China Telecom and China Unicom. The country's largest operator China Mobile--which is also the world's largest carrier--was not an official carrier since previous versions of the iPhone, prior to iPhone 5, were not supported on the operator's TD-SCDMA 3G network. Owing to China Mobile's sizable subscriber base, this could have muted Apple's footprint in thecountry. 

The operator leads China's mobile market with 683 million 2G and 3G subscribers. China Unicom comes in a far second at 162 million subscribers, while China Telecom has about 144.18 million users.

Although iPhone 5 has not been officially launched in China, smugglers have been bringing handsets from the Hong Kong market to the mainland. Smuggled handsets were sold at an inflated price with the lowest model of iPhone 5 selling at over 7,000 yuan (US$1,110), from the original price in Hong Kong at HK$5,088 (US$656).

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