With the number of mobile subscribers set to top 1 billion in China this year, Apple’s iPhone is getting a beat down courtesy of Samsung inside the Chinese market. Yup, despite landing deals with China Unicom and China Telecom, Apple has only a third of Samsung’s smartphone market share in China.
According to data from Gartner, Samsung currently holds 24.3% of the Chinese market for phones that can play videos and game while Apple currently commands 7.5% of Chinese smartphone owners. Surprise huh?
Well, the reason why Samsung beats Apple in smartphone marketshare in China is that Samsung currently has deals with all three of China’s mobile carriers — China Unicom, China Telecom, and China Mobile, while Apple has two. And that missing third deal is an all-important one with China’s largest carrier, China Mobile, which has about 655 million subscribers.
Here’s what Gartner analyst Sandy Shen said in an interview with Bloomberg,
“I don’t expect Apple to replace Samsung any time soon. China Telecom is the nation’s smallest carrier, so the extent to which they can help Apple is quite limited.”
The strategy of allying with all three carriers in China, especially China Mobile, is a key point to step into the Chinese mobile-phone market. Although Apple has been willing to play ball with China Unicom and China Telecom, the largest carrier in China is China Mobile and the iPhone is not on the network.
The fact that Apple does not have any partnership with China Mobile is really a pain. The reason Apple hasn’t thus far been able to get the iPhone onto China Mobile is because China Mobile uses its own brand of 3G tech called TD-SCDMA and Apple, to date, has balked at manufacturing an iPhone with hardware that can run on China Mobile’s 3G network.
A Beijing-based analyst with IDC China, Teck Zhung Wong, said:
“Having access to more subscribers gives vendors like Samsung an advantage. If Apple is going to continue to grow in the Chinese market, it has to consider very seriously a handset with China Mobile.”
We know Apple has long been in talks with China Mobile to bring the iPhone to its network, but discussions have reportedly been difficult because the carrier wanting a piece of the App Store revenue pie in exchange for Apple’s iPhone coming to its service.
Today, a Chinese mobile phone user is able to get a Samsung Galaxy S II or Galaxy Note from all three major mobile operators in the country. For example, the Galaxy Note, it is available on three different 3G standards, with China Telecom offering a CDMA2000 device, China Mobile providing a TD-SCDMA model, and China Unicom marketing a WCDMA version. So, it has dual-standby, supporting both CDMA and GSM networks. Samsung is indeed trouncing the iPhone in China — but that could change when China Mobile gets their TD-LTE ready for Apple’s next generation iPhone.
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