Apple, Samsung lead 4G handset sales in China

Market research says Apple and Samsung accounted for 85 percent of 4G smartphone sales in China in the first two months of 2014. Chinese chip manufacturers worry the market will be monopolized by Western chip makers Qualcomm and Marvell.

Sino Market Research Ltd's first market report on Chinese 4G handsets shows Apple’s market share at 58.7 percent in the first two months of 2014. Korean technology giant Samsung took 26.4 percent during the period, making it second in the market.

Chinese brand Coolpad was in third place, with a market share of 9.4 percent, while K-Touch, Sony and Huawei trailed with a tepid combined 4.5 percent share according to a Sina news report on Friday.

The research note also indicates Apple’s market share declined 22.9 percent during the two months, while Samsung and Coolpad climbed 12.8 percent and 8.2 percent, respectively.

As Chinese regulators didn’t issue 4G licenses until December 2013, and as carriers China Unicom and China Telecom were late in commercializing 4G services, the research data basically reflects China Mobile's 4G handset sales, Sina news explained.

China Mobile – the world’s largest mobile carrier by subscribers (775.6 million) – had only 1.34 million 4G customers at the end of February. The company announced earlier that it expects to sell about 100 million 4G LTE smartphones by the end of the year. While the major chunk of China Mobile's 4G customers are Apple and Samsung users, only 15 percent use a Chinese-branded handset.

The data triggered anxieties among Chinese chip makers because the main beneficiaries of 4G in China appear primarily to be large US mobile chip manufacturers like Qualcomm. Qualcomm is also the major 4G smartphone chip supplier for China Mobile at the moment.  At present, only two foreign companies - Qualcomm and Marvell - are making 5-mode LTE chips that adapt to various kinds of LTE networks.

Chinese players had high hopes for 4G commercialization to provide an opportunity for domestic smartphone brands to leapfrog foreign peers, but the truth is many Chinese brands have already been left behind in 4G terminal developments by their overseas competitors, said Sina news.

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