China becomes biggest global Android market

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China has become the largest Android market in the world, with two in every three mobile phones sold across the country during 2012 were powered by Android, as the US market catches up rapidly.

According to the latest research from Informa Telecoms & Media, a third of the Android devices sold in 2012 were sold in China.

The US is the second-largest market for Android with an 11% share, with research anticipating at least one in every two mobile phones sold in the US in 2013 will be powered by this platform.

“Despite the economic downturn, the global smartphone market is enjoying healthy growth and consumers are actually spending more to acquire more technologically-advanced devices,” says Malik Saadi, principal analyst, Informa Telecoms & Media.

“It is estimated that around 786 million smartphone devices were sold in 2012 (including the devices powered by non-certified variants of Android that are proliferating in China), which is 45% more than the total number of smartphones sold in 2011.”

China is the standout fastest-growing smartphone market with a year-on-year growth of 85% in 2012 and this growth is being driven by the explosive demand for Android phones according to the report.

Of the other major platforms, Apple iPhone and Microsoft’s Windows Phone hold minority shares of China’s total handset sales, around 5% and 1%, respectively, in 2012.

However, thanks to Nokia’s partnership with China Mobile, Windows Phone is expected to improve its share in 2013 to 2% while iPhone is expected to lose market share slightly if Apple does not manage to create a TD-LTE variant for the Chinese market.

“Looking forward, Android is expected to continue gaining market share globally and, by 2015, one in every two handsets sold worldwide will be powered by it,” Saadi says.

“However, according to Informa Telecoms & Media, the market share of this platform could potentially peak – or even decline – after 2016 owing to a more aggressive penetration of the alternative OSs, most notably Windows Phone.”

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