The China handset market has exhibited strong growth, with the total number of mobile users in the country reaching 980 million people according to figures from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), an increase of 130 million over the 2010 figure. Digitimes Research estimates that mobile user numbers could top 1.13 billion in 2012.
Digitimes Research estimates that the China handset market reached some 390 million units in 2011, representing 16% growth on 2010; the market is likely to grow to 430 million units in 2012, representing further growth of 9%. Thanks to the expansion of 3G service coverage and further falls in budget smartphone prices, the share of the handset market accounted for by smartphones is likely to reach 32% or around 143 million units, 70% of which will be Android handsets.
Digitimes Research believes that market share rankings for the China smartphone market will change significantly during 2012. Samsung and Apple will take the top two places, while the big four China-based brands - Huawei, ZTE, Lenovo and Coolpad - will take third to sixth places, while Nokia will drop to seventh; these seven firms will collectively account for 85% of shipments.
In other words, the many other brands hoping to seize a share of the market will essentially be confined to competing for a potential market of just 15% of overall shipments or around 21 million handsets. Given such a situation, Digitimes Research projects that many of China's best known smaller brands such as Xiaomi, TCL, Gionee, Tianyu, Oppo and BBK will see shipments of no more than a few million handsets.