Apple reclaims top 5 ranking in China's smartphone market

Cupertino banks on brisk iPhone 5 sales and lower prices for older phone models to propel back into fifth place, but an analyst believes it needs to release a cheaper model to increase its market share.
Written by Cyrus Lee, Contributor

Brisk iPhone 5 sales and price cuts for older iPhone models helped vault Apple back into the top 5 smartphone vendors in China during the first quarter of 2013, but Samsung continues to dominate the market.

Citing figures from Canalys, Sina Tech reported Friday the U.S. IT giant jumped from sixth to fifth in the most recent quarter on the back of increased sales of its smartphone and it now corners 8 percent of the Chinese market.

Market leader Samsung continues to be at the top with 20 percent, while Yulong Computer, Huawei Technologies and ZTE took second to fourth spot, respectively, it added.

China's smartphone market also continues to pull further away from the U.S., as device shipment there hit 82 million during the first three months of 2013. This is about three times that of the 27 million units shipped in the U.S. during the same period, it stated. 

Cheaper iPhones needed

Going forward, Apple will have to release a cheaper version of the iPhone if it hopes to improve on its market share in China. Nicole Peng, research director for China at Canalys, said low-cost smartphones priced between 400 yuan (US$64.70) and 700 yuan (US$113.17) are driving shipment volumes domestically. As such, she suggested the price Apple should aim for is 2,000 yuan (US$323.33) as such an iPhone model would appeal to the budget-conscious Chinese consumer.

The 16GB iPhone 5 is currently priced at 5,288 yuan (US$854.90) while the 8GB iPhone 4 is sold for 3,088 yuan (US$499.22) on Apple's Web site.

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