Android is absolutely creaming iOS in the world’s biggest mobile phone market, according to new stats from Beijing-based Analysys International, which estimate the Google platform now accounts for nearly 70 per cent of Chinese smartphones.
The market watcher’s breakdown of smartphone sales by operating system for 2011 makes for pretty depressing reading for Apple, which saw its share rise from 4.1 per cent in Q1 to just 5.7 per cent by the end of the year.
On the other hand, Android began 2011 in second place with 33.6 per cent, behind Symbain with 42.5 per cent, but overtook the Nokia OS in the second quarter and hasn’t looked back, ending the year with a share of 68.4 per cent.
Symbian, meanwhile, slumped to 18.7 per cent by the fourth quarter and it’s difficult to see a way back for the OS, especially given that Nokia is now putting all of its marketing efforts into Windows Phone.
It’s pretty obvious why Android is winning out over iOS. Not even the huge and growing army of fanbois in the People’s Republic – some of whom are prepared to go to extreme lengths for a device – can mask the fact that for most people an iPhone or iPad is simply unaffordable.
Conversely, Android is loaded onto a huge range of handsets now and is likely to make even deeper inroads as domestic manufacturers like ZTE and Xiaomi roll out Android devices aimed at the budget end of the smartphone market.
This segment would seem to be a key area for growth in the future as even high end brands such as Samsung drop their prices to compete.
In the face of these trends it’s difficult to see how Apple can significantly increase its market share in 2012 unless it finally signs a deal with leading operator China Mobile, which will give it access to a huge additional number of users.
The main problem has been over Apple’s refusal to produce a 3G iPhone compatible with the operator’s home grown TD-SCDMA standard, but even without a 3G tie-up China Mobile has seen 15 million 2G iPhone subscribers sign-up to its services.
Whether Apple is prepared to wait until 4G services come to China in a couple of years before it can tap China Mobile’s estimated 650m+ subscribers remains to be seen. ®