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The Next Big Thing

Apple tops Xiaomi in China smartphone sales as iOS eats into Android’s lead

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 07 May, 2015, 4:04pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 07 May, 2015, 4:04pm

Apple topped the Chinese smartphone market in the first quarter, helped by demand for the new iPhone 6, beating local rival Xiaomi in the latest sales numbers.

Kantar Worldpanel ComTech’s latest report gave the US tech giant a 26.1 per cent share of the Chinese smartphone market, 5.1 percentage points higher than Xiaomi.

“In the quarter, Apple represented 25 per cent of smartphone sales in urban China’s 2,000 to 4,000 yuan (US$320 to 640) monthly income bracket, a 10.1 percentage point increase from the same period in 2014,” the report said.

The figures confirm the importance to Apple of sales in China, which overtook the US to become the largest market for iPhones in the first quarter. Sales in China helped propel Apple’s first-quarter revenues to a record US$58 billion. Revenues in China alone grew 71 per cent in the quarter, the US company reported last month.

China's State Internet Information Office forecast that about 500 million Chinese, more than one third of the total population, will buy smartphones this year. The strong demand has prompted a number of companies to enter the market, including many from outside the traditional phone business.

Smartphone inventories reached 780 million units in China last year, increasing by 34.3 per cent over 2013, according to iResearch Consulting Group.

The Kantar report showed that the rise of Apple and its iOS operating system cut into the lead enjoyed by Android. The number of Android users in the quarter dropped 8 per cent from the same period a year earlier, while iOS users rose 9.2 per cent.

Among new users of iOS in the quarter, 45.6 per cent were previous Android users, the report said.

Of the smartphones sold in the quarter, 63.5 per cent were through China Mobile, 21 per cent China Unicom and 14.6 per cent China Telecom.

The three state-owned firms are in race to promote faster and cheaper mobile internet services. China’s premier, Li Keqiang, has publicly said that current internet charges are too high for ordinary Chinese.