Emerging Technology

Start-up and SME opportunities ahead as 450 million smartphones to be sold in China next year

Andrew Sadauskas /

The number of smartphones shipped to China is anticipated to reach an astounding 450 million units next year, according to a new market forecast by IDC, potentially creating huge opportunities for start-ups, app developers and SMEs.

That total is likely to include around 120 million 4G handsets, including 32 million that support China Mobile’s proprietary TD-LTE network.

The figures anticipate strong growth from 2013, when shipments are anticipated to reach 360 million.

According to the report, the rapid adoption of smartphones in China is likely to create new business opportunities, potentially including small businesses and start-ups.

“That would benefit the upstream 4G chip and screen vendors, midstream mobile phone vendors and app developers, and channel distributors and accessory vendors, which would in turn accelerate other innovations in the mobile communication and internet industry,” the report said.

While the report anticipated Android to remain the dominant platform out to 2017, its market share is likely to slip from above 80% to around 70% as lower-cost alternatives, including Mozilla’s Firefox OS, Apple iOS and potentially Samsung Tizen, to gain traction.

“Thanks to its cooperation with China Mobile and the launch of a low-cost iPhone, iOS will see a rapid growth in 2014, and IDC expects its market share to double that of 2013.

“In addition, the development of Firefox OS, Tizen and Linux-based Aliyun OS will enable healthy competition to be maintained among China’s smartphone operating systems, although they are currently not in the leading position.”

The top five Chinese smartphone vendors by market share are Samsung on 18.3%, Lenovo on 12.6%, Coolpad on 11%, ZTE with 8.8% and Huawei on 8.7%.

However, other manufacturers and local vendors still account for a large slice of the local market, with the broad others category (also including Apple and Nokia) accounting for 41% of all shipments in China.

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Andrew Sadauskas

Andrew Sadauskas is a former journalist at SmartCompany and a former editor of TechCompany.

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