Apple’s strategy of aligning the iPhone to a single mobile operator seems to have failed in China, where Samsung has achieved impressive market share. According to Bloomberg, iPhone has a 7.5% share of smartphones sales in China, while Samsung has 24.3% market share.
This percentage makes Apple the fifth smartphone seller in the country, while Samsung ranks first. Samsung has sold phones through the three largest mobile operators even since 2009: China Unicom (about 200 million subscribers), China Telecom (129 million subscribers) and China Mobile (655 million subscribers).
Apple, on the other hand, has sold exclusively through China Unicom, but two weeks ago began to sell its iPhone through China Telecom as well, which should increase the company’s market share. But China Telecom, although huge considering the Western standards, is the smallest of the three Chinese mobile operators.
The “Father” of mobile communications in China, China Mobile, expects to start selling Apple’s iPhone only after the Cupertino company will release the LTE version, expected by the Chinese company later this year. About 15 million “decoded” iPhones are already in use in China Mobile’s network, without the operator to sell one.
The reason why the market share is so important is that the smartphones have become a marketing platform, on which developers are building applications running on different operating systems. As for Windows, if a platform reaches a dominant market share, developers tend to “gravitate” around it. Thus, a risk for Apple in China (and worldwide as well) is that Android could become the dominant platform for application development.
The operating system developed by Google, which supports the smartphones produced by Samsung, is the market leader in China with a share of almost 50%, even though Apple has regained an important part in the previous quarter thanks to the sales of iPhone 4S.
It is likely that Apple’s sales through China Telecom to help reduce the difference between the Cupertino company and Samsung in China, but until will sell the smartphone through China Mobile, Samsung will remain the leading smartphone manufacturer in China.