China is now the world's biggest smartphone market by volume, having taken the crown from the US in the third quarter, analysts estimate.
Smartphone shipments in China grew 58% sequentially during the quarter to a record 23.9 million units, according to Strategy Analytics. This compares to a 7% slump in US sales to 23.3 million units.
The firm attributes the strong growth to operators' aggressive handset subsidy strategies, as well as the increasing availability of low-cost Android phones from ZTE and other Chinese brands.
According to Strategy Analytics director Tom Kang, China is “now at the forefront of the worldwide mobile computing boom. [It] has become a large and growing smartphone market that no hardware vendor, component maker or content developer can afford to ignore.”
But the US still has the edge on China in one significant respect – it remains the world's top market in terms of quarterly smartphone sales revenue.
Nokia is the leading smartphone vendor in China, having shipped 6.8 million units during the quarter. Samsung is second, with 4.2 million units. In the US, HTC leads the pack, while Apple is the chief contender.