IDC: Apple grew iPhone 4 sales 211% in China as company grabs 9% market share

China’s mobile phone shipments registered at 97 million units in Q1 2013, up 15% compared with the same period in 2012, while China’s smartphone shipments totaled 78 million units in Q1 2013, with a growth of 117% compared with the same period in 2012.

According to IDC’s 2013 Q1 China Mobile Phone Quarterly Tracker, shipments of TDMC-based smartphones reached 28 million units in Q1 2013, with a year-on-year growth of 390%. This resulted in the share of smartphones in China’s mobile phone market reaching a new high of 79%.

From the perspective of vendors, in terms of smartphone shipments, Samsung continues to rank as No. 1 with a market share of 19% and a link relative ratio of 34%. Its shipments of products under US$200 grew by 47%.

In Q1 2013, Apple ranked the fifth with a market share of 9% and a link relative ratio of 21%. The shipments of iPhone 4, which is an excellent performer, grew by 211% over the previous quarter.

Except Huawei, despite the recent release of their operator-subsidized products, other large domestic mobile phone vendors have not experienced a prominent increase in their Q1 shipments.

Antonio Wang, Associate Director of Computing Systems Research Group of IDC China, said in a statement, “In China’s smartphone market, Samsung has switched its marketing focus from competing with Apple for high-end market to maintaining its high-end market share, and is starting to strive for market for products under USD 200, which has so far been dominated by domestic brands. However, Apple leverages the incentive policies for channels to inspire the shipments of iPhone4, further expanding its user base.”

IDC predicts that, thanks to operator subsidies and robust consumer demands for new phones, China’s smartphone shipments will increase sharply in 2013; in 2017, smartphone shipments will exceed 460 million units to reach a market size of RMB 740.5 billion (USD 117.8 billion).

James Yan, senior analyst of IDC China, who is responsible for mobile phone market research, predicts that the development trends of China’s mobile phone industry chain will manifest in the following aspects in the next five years:

• By 2017, 4G mobile phone shipments will outnumber 3G mobile phone shipments. IDC predicts that, with an increasing share of upstream 4G chip vendors engaging in mass production, the push by China’s three major operators, and the support from terminal vendors, the shipments of 4G mobile phones will outnumber those of 3G mobile phones in 2017.That will further promote the development of the entire mobile communications and mobile internet industry.

IDC China Mobile phone market forecats by wireless technology

• By the end of 2013, the market share of smartphones with screens 5-inch and above will exceed 20%. Influenced by the operators’ demands for customized product specifications (large screen over 5 inches, dual-core/quad-core) and the positive effect of Samsung’s GALAXY S and Note series on the growth of large-screen mobile phone market, large-screen mobile phones are gradually becoming acceptable to consumers. As a result, mobile phone vendors quickly responded with the release of a large amount of smartphones with 5-inch above screens. IDC data indicates that, as of Q1 2013, the market share of 5-inch above smartphones reached 7.5%, up 74% over the previous quarter. IDC forecasts that this figure will exceed 20% by the end of 2013.

IDC: China Mobile Phone Market Forecasts by Screen Size

• Large domestic vendors will acquire upstream and downstream businesses to close gaps in supply chain. Domestic brands, which have encountered many bottlenecks in developing high-end products, such as product patent subjected to limits and core components controlled by large foreign vendors, need to urgently integrate the upstream and downstream of the industry chain or consider merger and acquisition (M&A) strategies. IDC expects that many M&As in relation to the industry chain will emerge in the next two years.

• Vendors will prepare themselves for mobile internet and communications to enhance stickiness or vie for mobile internet entrance. It is difficult for mobile phone vendors to differentiate by simply upgrading hardware for higher premium. Getting ready for mobile internet services, such as app store, voice input, mobile browser, mobile desktop and cloud service, has become an inevitable competition strategy for vendors to enhance stickiness and vie for mobile internet entrance in the future.

• Efforts will be made to develop wearable terminals and mobile services such as somatosensory live action. Along with the development of flexible materials and sensing devices, mobile phone peripherals and wearable terminals will enter the development stage; meanwhile, industrial applications (including health care and education) and consumer services (such as life tools, gaming and shopping) will attract more attention.

Source: International Data Corporation


  1. 20% 5″ or bigger by end of 2013? These folks are generally smaller than most Europeans and Americans. Maybe the claims I read here daily that no one wants bigger phones is just not true. Apple needs to address this trend. Why only one size? iPod, iPads and Macs come in different sizes, why not Apple phones? I do not get it.

    1. I believe the claims of everyone wanting a large display smartphone is either an assumption or a lie. After all, even Samsung makes a Galaxy Mini which it wouldn’t do unless there was still a demand for smaller smartphones. If a consumer walks into a carrier and the carrier is pushing large display smartphones a consumer could be persuaded to buy one. I think we’ll only know for sure is when that consumer chooses his next smartphone if he goes for a larger smartphone.

      Tim Cook said current large displays did not quite meet Apple’s standards in brightness, power conservation, costs, etc. Sure, I know it sounds like an excuse, but what else would be stopping Apple from building smartphones with larger displays? Apple can certainly afford to do it. We’ll never know for sure whether Tim Cook is lying or not. Maybe larger smartphones weren’t in their immediate plans or consumer demand isn’t as high as made out to be. I honestly think there must be a valid reason.

  2. What other phone company has a growing market share for a 3 year old phone model?

    So they’ve protected their flagship as a desirable (and high-margin) product, they’ve utilized existing capacity by continuing to produce older models, and they’ve still effectively addressed the mass market with a less expensive product.

    Their business model seems to tick all the boxes.

      1. Agreed. For a company supposedly doing so well, the stock pretty much sucks beyond all reason. Apparently the hedge funds used or are using Apple as a piggy bank to buy all their other stocks. I’m loading up on Apple now and hopefully, what goes around comes around. I should be so lucky.

  3. “By 2017, 4G mobile phone shipments will outnumber 3G mobile phone shipments”

    I think this is amazing. China sees themselves as a modern and developed nation. Still they are just no starting to deploy 3G in large scale and 3G phones will outship 2G phones this year…………….. Yes. 3G was a technology that was introduced like 10 years go or more in Sweden and it sck! LTE is so much better and I’m not talking about just the speed. They are so behind the curve in so many areas.

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