China's red hot smartphone market cools
Following nine quarters of strong growth, the Chinese smartphone market declined 4.3 percent sequentially in the fourth quarter of 2013, according to the latest stats from market research firm IDC.
China shipped 90.8 million units in the fourth quarter, compared to 94.8 million in the third quarter.
IDC blamed the decline on a number of factors, including a delay in China Mobile shipping 4G handsets until the first quarter of 2014 and a cut in smartphone subsidies from mobile operators.
"There will certainly be future drivers to unlock further smartphone growth in China, as Apple demonstrated with its China Mobile tie-up in January, and the massive device migration to come of phones only supporting 2G and 3G networks to devices supporting 4G networks. However, we are now starting to see a market that is becoming less about capturing the low-hanging fruit of first time smartphone users and moving into the more laborious process of convincing existing users why they should upgrade to this year's model," says Melissa Chau, senior research manager with IDC Asia/Pacific's client devices team.
IDC identified two trends in the Asia-Pacific smartphone market going forward. First, emerging markets such as India will increasingly take the lion's share of growth. Second, Chinese phone makers will increasingly look overseas to sell their wares.
"Chinese players are getting hungrier to turn themselves into international rather than China-only brands. Nowhere is this more clear than Lenovo's acquisition of Motorola's handset business, and even smaller players, some unknown to much of the world, like Oppo, BBK, Gionee and of course Xiaomi are ramping up on international expansion," concludes Chau.
- see IDC's release