The United States has traditionally been the top market for smartphones but if the latest sales figures from Strategy Analytics, a Boston-based market analysis company, hold up then it looks like Chinese customers may soon replace Americans as the largest smartphone consumer group.
According to Strategy Analytics, Chinese smartphone sales rocketed up to 24 million sold units in Q3 of 2011 placing the country well ahead of the U.S. and representing a phenomenal 58% growth. The charge was lead by Nokia products but Android darling Samsung also made a strong showing in second place with over four million shipped handsets and an 18% market share. According to Tom Kang, Strategy Analytics director, the “emerging wave of low-cost Android models from local Chinese brands such as ZTE” is one of the driving factors behind the new wave of smartphone sales in mainland China.
This is, of course, great news for the smartphone community as a whole as more profits for OEM means more money that can be used for R&D.
China is rapidly becoming a cash cow for OEMs, as we recently saw with HTC's best third quarter ever, North America is still the most profitable market. Chinese smartphones are often heavily subsidized and cheap local models and knock-off Android and iPhone clones keep prices low meaning that, while China is rapidly become a prime destination for smartphone tech, we'll still be seeing Europe and North America getting their fair share of high-powered devices.