China to take smartphone lead in 2012

Dylan Bushell-Embling
31 Aug 2012

China is poised to overtake the US as the world's largest market by annual smartphone sales volumes in 2012, and to maintain its position for at least the next four years, if not permanently.

IDC estimates that China's share of the global smartphone market will grow to 26.5% in 2012, from 18.3% last year.

The US is by contrast forecast to have a 17.8% share of the market this year, down from 21.3% in 2011. By the tail-end of IDC's forecast period in 2016, China is expected to have a 26.2% share, while the US share will fall to 11.6%.

The Chinese smartphone market is being driven by sales of sub-$200 Android devices, and average prices in the low-end segment are expected to fall further in coming years.

But this means that the market is characterised by lower average sales values, thinner margins, and increased competition from all players.

India and Brazil are also set to roundly outpace China by five-year CAGR through to 2016, with the Indian market forecast to swell by an average of 57.5% per year.

India's total global share was just 2.2% in 2011, and is expected to rise to just 2.5% in 2012. But by 2016, India's share is projected to climb to 8.5%.

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