updated 02:35 pm EDT, Fri September 11, 2009
iPhone in China a "starting gun"
The launch of the iPhone in China could be instrumental to the growth of smartphones in the entire world, according to an estimate by iSuppli. The threat of an officially sanctioned iPhone on China Unicom is believed to be a "starting gun" for China and has already spurred the government-backed carrier China Mobile to introduce its rival Ophone platform, which combines touchscreen phones with a custom Android operating system that shows strong influences from the iPhone. The competition is expected to spike Chinese smartphone sales by 42.5 percent in 2010 to 30.2 million.
Such growth is predicted to contribute substantially to the world share for smartphones, which itself could grow 27.9 percent to over 235.6 million devices in 2010; that growth may only get faster with a 41.8 percent jump in 2011 to 334.1 million.
The analysts also believe some of the help will come from smartphones now being "mature" thanks to the widespread availability of 3G and media features, both of which encourage smartphone adoption and push carriers to reduce prices for phones and data plans. China's 3G networks are relatively young but are set to expand rapidly within the next few years.