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China is now the biggest smartphone market in the world and is still being dominated by Google’s (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android, though Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) share grew from 9.9 percent a year ago to 17.3 percent this past quarter. Android holds a 69.5 percent share of the market, while Nokia (NYSE:NOK) is third with 11.2 percent. More than 33 million smartphone units were sold in the country in the last quarter alone to top the 25 million units sold in the U.S., Needham & Co. analyst Charlie Wolf wrote in a note to clients on Monday. Shipments grew 164 percent year over year.
“The surge in China can be traced in part to the introduction of smartphones at materially lower prices that made them competitive with feature phones,” Wolf wrote. “A material percentage of these sales were captured by second-tier Chinese manufacturers.”
Much of Apple’s almost-doubled share from last year came from the launch of the iPhone on China Telecom (NYSE:CHA) this year, but the phone still remains unavailable on the country’s largest provider, China Mobile (NYSE:CHL). Reports suggest that the next iPhone will add compatibility with the wireless leader’s wireless network, helping the company make a bigger dent into Android’s lead. China Mobile is the world’s largest wireless operator by the number of subscribers, with over 650 million current connections.
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