China beats US in smartphone shipments

China leapfrogs U.S. in smartphone shipment volumes for first time helped by low-cost Android phones and "aggressive" operator subsidies but U.S. still biggest market in terms of revenue, report finds.
Written by Liau Yun Qing, Contributor

China's smartphone shipments have surpassed the United States for the first time, boosted mainly from the influx of low-cost Android devices and "aggressive" operator subsidies, according to third quarter findings by a research firm. However, the U.S. remains the biggest market in terms of revenue.

Strategy Analytics stated in a press release on Wednesday that smartphone shipments in China reached a "record" 23.9 million units during the third quarter while U.S. shipments came in at 23.3 million units. In terms of percentage growth, China witnessed a 58 percent spike sequentially this quarter, but the U.S. saw a 7 percent drop over the same time period, noted Linda Sui, an analyst with Strategy Analytics, in the report.

Tom Kang, a director at Strategy Analytics, added in the report that the smartphone boom in China can be attributed to the increasing availability of smartphones in retail channels, aggressive subsidizing by operators of high-end devices such as Apple's iPhone, and an emerging wave of low-cost Android models from local Chinese brands such as ZTE.

In terms of vendor outlook, Nokia led the Chinese smartphone market with 28.5 percent followed by Samsung at 17.6 percent during this third quarter. By comparison, in the U.S., HTC claimed 24 percent of the market while Apple came in second at 20.6 percent, the report stated.

"China is now at the forefront of the worldwide mobile computing boom. China has become a large and growing smartphone market that no hardware vendor, component maker or content developer can afford to ignore," added Neil Mawston, executive director at Strategy Analytics.

That said, Mawston pointed out that the U.S. remains the world's largest smartphone market by revenue.

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