updated 04:02 pm EDT, Thu May 9, 2013
Samsung still overwhelmingly in control
Apple retook fifth place in the Chinese smartphone market during the first quarter of the year with an 8 percent share, according to Canalys data obtained by IDG News. Previously, during the third and fourth quarters of 2012, Apple had been relegated to sixth place. Samsung remained in control during Q1 2013, managing a 20 percent share. Local firms Yulong, Huawei, and Lenovo completed the top five.
Samsung and Apple were in fact the only two non-Chinese companies in the top 10 vendors in the country; about 68 percent of all Chinese smartphone shipments were from local phone makers. That figure is particularly significant, since while in Q1 2012 smartphone shipments were relatively equal between the US and China, 82 million devices hit the Chinese market in Q1 2013, versus just 27 million in the US. China has become increasingly important for vendors around the world.
A major obstacle for Apple is price. The iPhone is typically one of the most expensive smartphones in any market in which its sold, and in China that cost is especially inflated -- an iPhone 5 starts at 5,288 yuan ($863). Popular low-cost phones sell in the country for between 400 and 700 yuan. Apple is rumored to be working on a cheaper iPhone model which might sell for less than half the price of the 5.