Apple (News - Alert) leads the mobile market in the majority of countries across the globe. Not in China. Despite Apple’s efforts to win over the world’s largest smartphone market, Samsung (News - Alert) currently holds triple the market share of Apple in China. If Apple succeeds in turning this around and reaches their goal set for the Chinese market, China will succeed the United States as the country leading all aspects of the mobile market.
There may be various reasons for why some Chinese consumers choose Androids over iPhones, but an unlikely one is that Chinese consumers are simply not interested in the product. In fact, when the iPhone (News - Alert) 4S was launched in China back in January, crowds of people lined up outside of Apple stores anxiously awaiting the store’s 7AM open. When opening time arrived and iPhone fans learned that they were limited to the amount of handsets they could buy and sales temporarily froze, the waiting crowd erupted in violence.
The primary reason that the iPhone is not the country’s leading smartphone is perhaps fairly straightforward. China’s leading mobile carrier, China Mobile (News - Alert) uses a standard called TD-SCDMA, an “odd 3G standard” that is not compatible with the iPhone. China Unicom is currently the only carrier that offers compatibility with iPhones, but Apple CEO Tim Cook is hopeful that China Telecom (News - Alert), another mobile carrier, will also support Apple devices.
China Telecom is Apple’s ideal target network because the carrier currently services the majority of sophisticated smartphone enthusiasts. As would be expected of the leading brand, Samsung’s devices are compatible with every one of China’s major carriers.
One of the strategies Apple is implementing to increase the iPhone’s popularity in China’s market, is to offer customers a free iPhone 4S with a three-year contract with China Unicom. The 16GB version only requires a two-year contract. Maybe going this route will allow some of the people who had a disappointing experience at the phone’s launch to give it another shot.
Edited by Jennifer Russell