According to a recent research report from IDC, Apple's iPhone amassed a 9 percent share in the Chinese smartphone market during the first quarter of 2013. The iPhone now is the fifth most popular smartphone in China with Samsung taking the top spot with a 19 percent share.
While Apple's marketshare may not seem all that impressive on the surface, the report notes that iPhone growth in the country is outpacing overall smartphone growth by a wide margin. Specifically, IDC found that iPhone 4 sales grew by 211 percent compared to just 117 percent for the rest of the market.
While the data from competing research firms can tend to vary wildly, it's worth pointing out that Canalys back in May found that Apple's share of the smartphone market in Q1 2013 checked in at 8 percent.
The IDC report notes that Samsung was able to secure the top spot by focusing on the lower end of the market:
In China's smartphone market, Samsung has switched its marketing focus from competing with Apple for high-end market to maintaining its high-end market share, and is starting to strive for market for products under USD 200, which has so far been dominated by domestic brands. However, Apple leverages the incentive policies for channels to inspire the shipments of iPhone 4, further expanding its user base.
Driving the point home, the report notes that 47 percent of all sub-$200 smartphones sold in the country are Samsung devices.
As it stands now, the iPhone is available on two of the three largest mobile carriers in China. The lone standout is China Mobile which has well over 700 million subscribers, making it the largest mobile carrier in the world. Rumors of the iPhone landing on China Mobile have persisted of years now, and should a deal between the two company's ever be struck, it stands to reason that Apple's marketshare in the country will increase dramatically.
Lastly, Tim Cook is well aware of the growth opportunities offered by the Chinese market. During Apple's most recent earnings conference call, Cook explained that China has a large and untapped market of first-time smartphone buyers.
China has an unusually large number of potential first-time smartphone buyers, and that's not lost on us. We've seen a significant interest in iPhone 4 there and have recently made it even more affordable to make it even more attractive to those first-time buyers. And so we're hopeful that will help iPhone sales in future.