Expect China to be the place on everyone’s lips this year in terms of smartphones. Not only have two major Asian manufacturers, ZTE and Huawei, set their sights on the global market for expansion this year, but China is also set to become the world’s number one smartphone market.
The International Data Corporation has released figures showing that China is set to overtake the US by the slimmest of margins to become the stop smartphone marketplace, increasing its share last year from 18.2% to 20.7 % later in 2012, compared with the US which is currently at 20.6 %. By 2016 it is predicted that China will level at 20.2% while the US will drop to 15.3%. In comparison the IDC predicts the UK smartphones share will drop from 5.3% in 2011 to 3.7% in 2016 as markets in India and Brazil increase.
One of the significant areas for growth in China is the expected increase in the number of Android smartphone’s priced below £250. At Mobile World Congress last month Chinese manufacturers like Huawei and ZTE announced their target of the UK and Europe as an area for growth but also showed that they can make top devices with a cheaper price tag to more well established manufacturers.
Both companies unveiled quad-core devices at Mobile World Congress, with the Huawei Ascend and ZTE Era being unexpected show stoppers. Last year Huawei and ZTE sold 35 million handsets. Huawei says they plan to increase that sell over 60million handsets in 2012. Both companies are doing well in emerging markets like Brazil, Africa and India as well as targeting more established ones such as the UK. Offering their devices at lower prices than their competitors makes them even more attractive to consumers. Both have been names in the tablet and the PC markets for a while so expanding into smartphones means they bring their knowledge from the IT sector across. As smartphones become more powerful this becomes increasingly important as users want their handsets to be able to do more, without compromising on things like battery life.
While Chinese manufacturers target the UK, Europe and the US, the same is true of western manufacturers targeting the east. Apple has long had its sights set on China as it seeks to widen its consumer base.
So what does the growth of China as a smartphone market mean for a shopper in the UK? Well if their manufactures gain a bigger base then it means cheaper devices first of all. New names coming into the market wanting to make a splash will want to reduce prices to be more competitive. More choice inevitably means lower prices so it will be easier for UK consumers to get their hands on handsets that have all the power without the heavy price tag. If the growth of the Chinese market means more manufacturers turn their eyes to Asia then perhaps it means they could get hold of devices before the UK. However this is nothing new. Mobile makers have always launched different devices in different marketplaces at varying times. The Samsung Galaxy S2 came out in the UK before the USA while the Nokia Lumia 910 is coming to America before London. Considering the size of its population compared to the US and China the UK still punches above its weight and is a major marketplace in the global set-up.