In the world's most populous country, mobile phone activations are growing so quickly that China has surpassed the United States as the world’s largest mobile phone market. Google also has a major advantage over Apple when it comes to activations in China. While Google is currently the top dog in China’s mobile phone market, Apple is in a position to seriously compete for market share.
According a report released by Needham and Company, mobile phone sales, in China, have increase by 164% over last quarter with 33 million mobile phone sold. In comparison, for the quarter, mobile phone sales in the United States were 25 million units, a difference of 8 million units for the quarter.
As a nation, China has a population figure of over one billion people or one fifth of the global population and it is a place which holds great potential for both Google and Apple. In fact, according to China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, there have been over one billion mobile phone activations in China (including users with multiple phones). China’s activations have increased thanks to economic reforms and policy changes which have been enacted since the passing of Mao Zedong. Chinese government economic reforms have lead to a growing middle class and the disposable income which comes with being in the middle class.
Google is still the dominant player in China according to the report. Android OS has nearly 70% of the mobile phone market share to Apple’s 17% of market share. Apple’s market share is up from almost 10% last quarter. The huge disparity between Google and Apple has been attributed to both Android’s popularity among Chinese consumers and Apples limited exposure to the Chinese mobile phone market.
The problem for Google is Apple’s room to grow in the Chinese mobile phone market. Apple currently has agreements with two of the country’s smaller mobile carriers – China Telecom and China Unicom. The iPhone is not officially on China Mobile, the largest mobile carrier in China. Although, unofficially, there are estimated to be over 15 million jail broken iPhones currently running on China Mobile. If Apple can strike a deal with China Mobile, the company could open up a whole new market for the iPhone.
Google and its partners have no room to get complacent when it comes to China, and market share is Android’s to lose. While Google has the advantage of being well ahead of Apple in China, there is a new iPhone coming and it should make Apple even more competitive in China.
Photo courtesy of Mobisights.com