China's Smartphone Market

China’s Smartphone Market Picks Up Slightly in Q4 2014

According to the International Data Corporation (IDC), 107.5 million smartphones were shipped to China in 2014Q4, representing a 2% Quarter on Quarter (QoQ) growth. This culminates to 420.7 million smartphones being shipped to China in 2014.

The market also picked up in 2014Q4, where it saw a Year-on-Year (YoY) growth of 19% in 2014Q4 as compared to 11% in 2014Q3 (comparing the growth between 2013Q4 and 2014Q4, as well as 2013Q3 and 2014Q3).

“Although the 3G phone shipments in China were affected by the reduction in operators’ subsidy, the market was able to grow in 2014Q4 due to its growth in 4G phones. Also, while the share of phones sold through operators dropped, the number of phones sold through eTailers increased (share increased from single to double-digit YoY) due to the popularity of eTailers such as and Apple’s launch of larger screen sized phones also helped to contribute to the increase in shipments.”

Says Tay Xiaohan, Senior Market Analyst with IDC Asia/Pacific’s Client Devices team.

While IDC expects the YoY growth for the smartphone market in China to hit a close to 10 percent in 2015, there is still area for further growth in the China market.

“With the reduction in operator subsidy, operator-centric vendors in the past such as ZTE, Huawei and Coolpad have increased their shipments online through direct sales as well as through eTailers. They have also established online brands for this purpose. If they can find an effective balance between their online/offline strategy and find a unique positioning for their online brands, this can be a possible channel that they can use to increase their shipment numbers in 2015.”

Adds Tay.

Xiaomi’s focus on selling low-cost phones with decent specifications, as well as the hype that it created through its flash sales, helped it to obtain the top position in both 2014Q4 and 2014. Apple had a jump to the second position in 2014Q4 as its iPhone 6 and 6 Plus models were only launched in China in the last quarter of the year.

Huawei was ranked third in terms of smartphone shipments as it had a wide range of models in the low-end and mid-range segment that did well in 2014Q4. Lenovo finished off as the fourth in 2014Q4 with its strong focus on <US$150 phones while Samsung dropped to the fifth position in 2014Q4 as it faced immense competition from Xiaomi and the other Chinese vendors in the low to mid-end segment of the market.

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