Home » Cloud client SW platforms » The low priced, Android based smartphones of China will change the global market

The low priced, Android based smartphones of China will change the global market

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During the 12 months or so China took over the overall leading market role for smartphones from the key markets considered to be in the lead: US, Australia, Brazil, Great Britain (GB), Germany, France, Italy and Spain.

An even more dramatic change was that while on the old, combined lead market of the above countries high/moderate margin products were the dominating ones, on the new lead market of China average retail prices went down in the second quarter of 2012 to 1560 yuan (i.e. US$246) for the #1 Android with a whopping 82.8% market share, and to 1320 yuan (i.e. US$208) for the #2 Symbian now having only 6% share of the market.

It is notable as well that in China Apple had only a 6% market share vs. 23.7% in the combined old lead markets. According to a recent Reuters video report from Hong Kong we are witnessing (you can also watch this report in this post, as embedded well below in the following elaboration of details):

… commoditization of smartphones … hardware specifications for the handsets have already peaked…

A race to the bottom therefore will present a major challenge for Apple and Samsung who put together have dominated the industry in the last couple of years. If the China trends spread globally the shift to cheaper handsets will mean tighter margins and slower growth for this industry powerhouses and new opportunities for little known upstarts like Xiaomi.

Given my previous trend tracking posts the change will even be more dramatic as:

  1. The best smartphone based on the MediaTek MT6577 both technically and in terms of price is the MT6577-based JiaYu G3 with IPS Gorilla glass 2 sreen of 4.5” etc. for $154 (factory direct) in China and $183 [Sept 13, 2012], which is also the best example of the low priced, Android based smartphones of China will change the global market.
  2. Lowest H2’12 device cost SoCs from Spreadtrum will redefine the entry level smartphone and feature phone markets [July 26 – Aug 16, 2012]
    Boosting the MediaTek MT6575 success story with the MT6577 announcement  – UPDATED with MT6588/83 coming early 2013 in Q42012 and 8-core MT6599 in 2013 [June 27, July 27, Sept 11-13, Sept 26, Oct 2, 2012]
    Smartphone-like Asha Touch from Nokia: targeting the next billion users with superior UX created for ultra low-cost and full touch S40 devices [July 20 – Aug 12, 2012]
    MediaTek’s ‘smart-feature phone’ effort with likely Nokia tie-up[Aug 15-31, 2012]
  3. Update: China to ship 300 mil. smartphones in ’13: MediaTek head [The China Post, Sept 26, 2012]: … overall shipments in China may reach 200 million in 2012.
  4. Update: China market: Dual-core CPUs, 4-inch displays become standards for entry-level smartphones [DIGITIMES, Sept 17, 2012]:
Local brands in China have made upgrades to the specifications of their entry-level smartphones for the CNY1,000-1,500 (US$158-237) segment making dual-core 1GHz processors and 4-inch displays the industry standards, according to industry sources.
Prices of the previous mainstream models with single-core CPUs and displays below 4-inch sizes for the CNY1,000 segment in the first half of 2012 are now expected to drop to CNY500-800, the sources added.
China Unicom has led the purchase of the upgraded dual-core, 4-inch display smartphones recently, and its suppliers are all China-based vendors including Huawei Technologies, ZTE, Lenovo, Coolpad, TCL, Hisense, K-Touch and Wanlida, the sources revealed, adding that those makers will source chipset solutions from Qualcomm or MediaTek.
First-tier international players did not participate in China Unicom’s procurement on concerns of pricing and hardware specifications, the source asserted.
However, the pace of hardware upgrading may start slowing down as telecom companies in China are mulling reducing their subsidies to smartphone subscribers, while smartphone makers are also trying to maintain their profit margins, commented the sources.
The next round of competition will shift from hardware to software including product design, user’s interface and also smart audio recognition, the sources noted.

Neither Apple nor Samsung reacted to these challenges yet. Nokia was also playing safe with its recent announcement:
Unique differentiators of Nokia Lumia 920/820 innovated for high-volume superphone markets of North America, Europe and elsewhere [Sept 6, 2012]

We may expect a fundamental reorganisation of the market in the next two quarters.

Meanwhile read through the details included below and make your own, hopefully more fine-tuned conclusions and predictions:


See: Kantar: Windows Phone has overtaken RIM Market Share in USA, “Key 8 Countries”
[WMPoweruser, Sept 3, 2012]


Note that in terms of mobile data traffic the market share is quite different. For North America (U.S. and Canada) Chitika Insights, the independent research arm of online ad network Chitika, released the following web usage market share report [Sept 5, 2012]:


Remark: iPads and other tablets are included here as well!

Relative to all that China is a quite different story:

3G phones months shipments reach 21.64 million, domestic mobile share over 70% – 3G手机月出货量达2164万部 国产手机份额超七成 [Sohu IT – 搜狐IT, Sept 10, 2012]

According to data published by the Telecommunications Research Institute of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology …
根据工业和信息化部电信研究院公布的数据 …

[the data in the translated Chinese text I’ve compiled into the below table:]


China sees soaring smartphone market in Q2 [Xinhua, Sept 3, 2012]

Beijing: China’s smartphone market saw its sales volume soar to 38.19 million units in the second quarter, according to a report released Monday by market researcher Analysys International.

The figure represented a 22.5-per cent increase compared with that of the previous quarter and a sharp rise of 127.1 per cent over the corresponding period in 2011, said the report.

Nearly 67 million mobile phones were sold in China in the second quarter, the report said, representing a 1-per cent decrease from the previous quarter and a 2-per cent decrease from the corresponding period in 2011.

Stellar growth sees China take 27% of global smart phone shipments, powered by domestic vendors [Canalys press release, Aug 2, 2012] – Android is the clear platform of choice, accounting for 81% of Chinese shipments

Shanghai, Palo Alto, Singapore and Reading – Canalys published its final Q2 2012 country-level shipment estimates to clients yesterday. Results show that China saw phenomenal growth of 199% year-on-year and 32% over the previous quarter. In total, more than 42 million smart phones were shipped into the channel in China in Q2 2012, representing the second consecutive quarter of record breaking volumes in a single country market. China accounted for 27% of the 158 million global smart phone shipments, compared to 16% for the United States.
Notably, growth in China was heavily driven by domestic vendors, while international vendors struggled to keep pace.
While Samsung maintained its overall leadership position in China with a 17% market share, this reduced sequentially as volumes were flat and as several local vendors closed the gap. ZTE, Lenovo and Huawei were the second-, third- and fourth-placed vendors, ahead of Apple, making up a third of the market. They achieved growth of 171%, 2,665% and 252% year-on-year respectively. Collectively, domestic Chinese vendors shipped 25.6 million units, representing a growth of 518% and 60% of the market. By comparison, international vendors grew by a more modest 67% to 16.7 million units. Apple fell to fifth place in China. While its shipments were up 102% year-on-year, they were down 37% compared to Q1 2012.
‘The rise of the domestic tier-one brands has been aided by a number of factors. Their reactiveness to market demands and deep understanding of local consumer behavior and preferences have been key in helping them surpass international peers in the fast-evolving Chinese market. Local tier-one vendors have worked hard in recent quarters to greatly improve their brand resonance among consumers and to expand and enhance their relationships and influence within operators,’ said Canalys Research Director for China, Nicole Peng. ‘But the tier-two vendors — the likes of Oppo, K-Touch and Gionee — have also stamped their mark, boosting smart phone shipments into tier-three and tier-four cities, predominantly through the open channels. As feature phone vendors, they already have established partnerships and strong brand awareness. These domestic vendors are making significant progress transitioning their portfolios and customer bases to be more focused on smart phones.’
Nokia and Motorola both lost significant ground in China, with Nokia’s volumes down 47% on Q2 2011. ‘Among the international vendors, only HTC managed an outstanding performance in mainland China. Its shipments grew 389% year-on-year to reach 1.8 million units for the quarter,’ said Jessica Kwee, Canalys Research Analyst. ‘Its success this quarter is heavily based on the strong performance of Desire V series devices, designed with the local China market in mind, underscoring the importance of tailoring propositions to local consumer preferences.’
Android has become a major growth driver in China, running on 81% of the smart phones shipped in China in Q2 2012.
On a global basis, Android continued to grow in significance, surpassing 100 million quarterly smart phone shipments for the first time and reaching two-thirds share of the market. ‘Growth in Android volumes of 110% far outpaced growth in the overall market of 47% year-on-year, heavily driven by Samsung, which saw Android volumes of over 45 million, contributed to by a full and broad portfolio of products, from its high-end flagship Galaxy S III down to its aggressively priced Galaxy Y and Galaxy Mini. Its sponsorship of the London Olympics and subsequent product placements are sure to attract new customers to ensure that Q3 delivers a strong performance,’ commented Pete Cunningham, Canalys Principal Analyst.
Samsung retained its gold medal position in the global smart phone market with a 31% share, followed by Apple and Nokia once again. Huawei and ZTE were unable to push in on the global top five with shipments of their own branded devices. HTC moved up to fourth place, though, just ahead of RIM, which shipped 8.5 million units in the calendar quarter.

Global smart phone market

Analyst contacts
To speak with any analyst quoted in this release, please contact the appropriate Canalys office: Nicole Peng, Jessica Kwee (Canalys APAC), Pete Cunningham (Canalys EMEA). Alternatively, you can speak with other members of Canalys’ global team of mobile analysts: Chris Jones (Canalys Americas), Rachel Lashford (Canalys APAC), Tim Shepherd (Canalys EMEA).
About Canalys
Canalys is an independent analyst firm that strives to guide clients on the future of the technology industry and to think beyond the business models of the past. We deliver smart market insights to IT, channel and service provider professionals around the world. Our customer-driven analysis and consulting services empower businesses to make informed decisions and generate sales. We stake our reputation on the quality of our data, our innovative use of technology, and our high level of customer service.

Smart phone and pad forecasts show varying OS fortunes [Canalys press release, Sept 10, 2012] – China and Android influence smart phone landscape, the US and Apple dominate pads

Shanghai, Palo Alto, Singapore and Reading – The latest product announcements by leading smart phone and pad vendors will help drive consumer demand to new heights, according to Canalys. It forecasts that in 2016, global annual smart phone shipments will be around 1.2 billion units, meaning a CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) of 19.5%. It predicts pad shipments in the same year will hit 207 million – a CAGR of 26.8%.
Apple’s latest unveiling is attracting extraordinary interest and competitors have also made several major announcements in the past week, including Windows 8 devices from Nokia and Samsung; new Android smart phones from Sony, Motorola and Samsung; and Amazon’s enhanced Kindle Fire pads. With these big vendors attracting the headlines, Canalys has issued a timely reminder that the trends across pads and smart phones in various countries will be markedly different.
In smart phones, Canalys expects Asia Pacific to remain the largest region by volume, with annual shipments reaching 594 million by 2016. China will account for almost half of all shipments in the region and nearly a quarter of the world’s smart phones in 2016. This equates to only 10 million less than is forecast to ship in the whole of the Americas in that year.
Canalys managing director for Mobile and APAC, Rachel Lashford, said, ‘The latest, in-depth research for our dedicated Smart Phone Analysis China service reveals there will be a substantial increase in the number of first-time smart phone users in China over the next 12 months, while feature phone shipments will continue to decline. Smart phone sales will move beyond tier-one and tier-two cities.’
China’s domestic feature phone vendors are rapidly moving their businesses to smart phones, supported by low-cost solutions from chipset providers, such as MediaTek, Spreadtrum and Qualcomm’s QRD.
‘We anticipate strong demand from local Chinese vendors selling in both operator and open channels,’ said Nicole Peng, Canalys Research Director for China. ‘Chipset vendors are reporting growing momentum in 2.5G (EDGE) smart phone solutions. For less developed areas where 3G coverage is limited, 2.5G smart phones have advantages in cost and battery life. They are becoming popular with consumers, especially where prices are already close to those of feature phones (around RMB500, US$78). The tier-three and tier-four cities are feature phone vendors’ traditional strongholds. Local vendors will use their long-standing relationships with open channels and their established infrastructure to distribute smart phones, with or without operator subsidies, over the next few years.’
In terms of percentage growth, Canalys expects Latin America to move fastest, with a CAGR to 2016 of 27.3%. It forecasts good double-digit growth in all countries, but Brazil and Mexico will account for more than half of all shipments in the region.
Globally, Canalys expects Android to remain dominant, with 57% of the smart phones shipped in 2016 running the OS (up from 49% in 2011). It expects Apple’s share of this much larger market to remain similar to today, at around 18%. Microsoft is expected to make inroads over the coming years.
In the pad market, however, the OS picture will be quite different. Canalys expects Apple to take a little under half of the market in 2016. The plethora of Windows 8 pads that will be introduced over the next few years are predicted to bring Microsoft’s share to around 17%. Competitively priced Android pads, such as Google’s Nexus 7 and Amazon’s Kindle Fire models will have an impact in terms of volumes, but Android’s share is forecast to remain relatively stable at 35%, unless vendors make radical improvements to the overall user experience. In contrast to smart phone market trends, the US is expected to dominate pad shipments, with the volume more than doubling to 88 million units in 2016. China is expected to be the second largest country market, with shipments of around 20 million.
‘Pads are the fastest growing consumer electronics products in history and are forecast to represent 29% of total PC shipments in 2016. But the market remains dominated by a single vendor. Other PC and smart phone vendors are currently finding it hard to weaken Apple’s position,’ said Canalys Analyst Tim Coulling. ‘The only product that most would consider a big hit is the Kindle Fire, brought to market by Amazon – an Internet retailer. Tight integration of hardware, software and services is a prerequisite for competing in the pad market, even at low price points, and fragmentation among other pad vendors’ offers helps Apple maintain its position.’
Analyst contacts
To speak with any analyst quoted in this release, please contact the appropriate Canalys office: Rachel Lashford, Nicole Peng (Canalys APAC), Tim Coulling (Canalys EMEA). Or contact another member of Canalys’ global analyst team: Chris Jones (Canalys Americas), Jessica Kwee, Pin-Chen Tang (Canalys APAC), Pete Cunningham, Tim Shepherd, Tom Evans (Canalys EMEA).

Analysys data: 2012Q2 China Android Smartphone market 82.8% [Analysys International release, Sept 5, 2012] as translated by Bing:

Easy views network hearing” easy views international: according to EnfoDesk easy views intellectual library industry database recently publishing of 2012 2nd quarter China phone terminal market monitoring report under displayed, 2 quarter, China smart phone terminal (does not containing parallel and cottage machine) market in the, Android Department sales accounted for than from Shang last quarter of 76.7% upgrade to this quarter of 82.8%, net 6.1%. While the Symbian sales percentage has continued to free fall to the ground from the parent 11.8% to 6%. In addition, iOS small callback to 6%.

2012Q2 OS smartphone market penetration in China (not including parallel and cottage)
2 quarter pick-up systems from Smartphone ( encyclopedia of Analysys : smartphones ) [average smartphone] price changes, Android from 1670 [yuan i.e. US$263] last quarter, continuing down to the quarter of 1560 [yuan i.e. US$246]; 1320 [yuan i.e. US$208] of Symbian from last quarter down to 1170 dollars [yuan i.e. US$185] this quarter.

2012Q2 China Android and Symbian Smartphone price
(not including parallel and cottage)
Information about the mobile Internet more relevant data, please visit
For more content, please visit http://www.enfodesk.com/SMinisite/maininfo/regapply-cf-17.html
Or call the customer service-4006-515.

Analysys data: 2012Q1 China Android Smartphone market share increased from 76.7% [Analysys International release, June 6, 2012] as translated by Bing:

Analysys Web video” Analysys: at present, according to EnfoDesk Analysys think-tank on traditional retail markets of mobile phones (of the last quarter of 2012 quarterly monitoring mobile terminal market) data monitor display: Chinese smartphone market, Android system’s market share in handset sales rising 5 consecutive quarters.
Vulnerability analysis:
In the last quarter of 2012 China Mobile end-markets quarterly monitoring data show end of 2012 Q1, carrying Android in the Smartphone market system’s market share in the Smartphone Terminal 76.7%, 10% average quarterly market share gain. At the same time, as the Smartphone market continues to mature, carrying Android system average Smartphone prices are also way down to 1670 [yuan i.e. US$263 from 2300 yuan i.e. US$363 a year earlier].
Combined with traditional mobile phone sales channels under the line status, EnfoDesk Analysys Research think-tank believes that mobile phone sales market share of Android system continue to enhance, benefit from its open source nature attract numerous manufacturers to participate in, and China in the past two years in the Smartphone market and 3G business increment. Through the performance of manufacturers on the market today as well as the impact of EnfoDesk Analysys think tank study says
1. Is now dominated by application of the formation of eco-systems, as well as the Android open source, attracting new industry participants, such as Internet companies to enter product prices are depressed, make the increasingly intense market competition environment, product prices are driven down, threats to traditional enterprise bargaining power in the channel.
2012Q1 China smartphone sales share
2. Fragmentation trends exacerbate the Android system. Traditional manufacturing enterprises to overcome the effects of homogenization of products of intelligent systems, secondary development on the Android system, causes the application to version adjusted accordingly, application developer development costs gradually increased.
Smartphone price quarterly changes of 2011Q1-2012Q1 Android system
3. Sales in this period dominated by domestic brands in the low-end products, intelligent products of these enterprises continue to 3G input costs on the production line. But at the same time, while veteran international brand market share continues to decline, it would shorten the product line, focusing its research and development production 4G products research and development. With the advent of 4G era, will reshuffle the mobile terminal market. (Analysys International)
Information about the mobile Internet more relevant data, please visit http://data.eguan.CN/dianzishangwu
For more content, please visit Enfodesk Analysys Thinktank
Or call the customer service-4006-515.
Related reading:
2011Q2 China’s massive increase in Android share Symbian tumble

Is sun setting on smartphone profit miracle? [ReutersVideo YouTube channel, Aug 16, 2012]

… in 2 years the low-end has blown up …
China smartphone sales by price tier Q1 – 2010 Q1 – 2012
<1,500 yuan [<US$ 237] 17.7% 60%
1,500-3,000 yuan [US$ 237-473] 51.5% 24%
>3,000 yuan [>US$ 473] 30.8% 16%
Source: Jefferies Research
Faster, bigger, better: the smartphone tech arms race has produced great handsets and great returns. But China’s market trends suggest cheaper is set to be the next battle cry.
Cynthia Meng, China/HK TMT Equity Research, Jefferies Hong Kong:
[00:49] Next year it’s going to be about who is going to provide the best value for my money from a consumer point of view, from a telco point of view, because we think that hardware specifications for the handsets have already peaked. [01:03]
Narrator, xxx Gordon in Hong Kong:
In other words the oversized screen and quadcore processors of your precious Samsung [Galaxy] S III will soon be standard and achieved in handsets in China. [01:13]
commoditization of smartphones
[02:11] A race to the bottom will present a major challenge for Apple and Samsung who put together have dominated the industry in the last couple of years. [02:19] If the China trends spread globally the shift to cheaper handsets will mean tighter margins and slower growth for this industry powerhouses and new opportunities for little known upstarts like Xiaomi. [02:26]


iPhone Ranked Seventh in China’s Smartphone Market — Watch Out, ZTE [AllThingsD.com, Aug 24, 2012]

Apple’s iPhone has been gaining a lot of traction in China recently. As Apple CEO Tim Cook said during the company’s third-quarter earnings call, greater China accounted for two-thirds of Apple’s revenue in the Asia-Pacific region during the period.
“In terms of iPhones in general in mainland China, we were incredibly pleased with our results,” Cook said. “We were up over 100 percent, year over year.”
That’s an impressive achievement. But Apple still has a lot of work to do in China before the iPhone claims the same levels of market penetration it enjoys in the U.S. In China, the iPhone has captured about 7.5 percent of the smartphone market, compared to rival Samsung, which has claimed more than 20 percent, according to IHS iSuppli. Despite its popularity in the country, the iPhone is still ranked seventh in the Chinese smartphone market.
Why? Two reasons. First, Apple doesn’t yet offer a truly low-end smartphone that appeals to price-conscious Chinese consumers. (To be clear, China Telecom is offering the iPhone fully subsidized, but it requires subscribers to sign a contract that ties them to a two-year $62 per month plan.) Second, and more importantly, the iPhone doesn’t yet support Time Division Synchronous Code Division Multiple Access (TD-SCDMA), China’s homegrown wireless standard. And until it does, China Mobile, the world’s largest wireless carrier, can’t offer it to its 688 million or so subscribers.
“Among all the international smartphone brands competing in China, Apple is the only one not offering a product that complies with the domestic TD-SCDMA air standard,” IHS iSuppli’s Kevin Wang said in a statement. “For Apple, this is a huge disadvantage, as TD-SCDMA represents the fastest-growing major air standard for smartphones in China, with shipments of compliant phones expected to rise by a factor of 10 from 2011 to 2016.”
In other words, if Apple wants access to the massive addressable market that China Mobile has to offer, it’s going to have to offer a lower-end iPhone variant designed specifically for TD-SCDMA, something it has been loath to do in the past, and hasn’t given any indication that it’s willing to do in the future. As Cook said during Apple’s last earnings call, the company feels that its business is strongest when it focuses on making the best products it can, not the most inexpensive ones.
“I firmly believe that people in the emerging markets want great products, like they do in developed markets,” Cook said. “And so we’re going to stick to our knitting and make the best products. And we think that if we do that, we’ve got a very, very good business ahead of us. So that’s what we are doing.”

Breakingviews: Apple v. Samsung [ReutersVideo YouTube channel, Aug 27, 2012]

Breakingviews columnists discuss the implications of Apple’s U.S. victory in the high-profile tech patent spat and the implications for future smartphone devices and lawsuits elsewhere.

Apple Should Take The $199 Chinese Smartphone Seriously [Seeking Alpha, Sept 6, 2012]

At a time when China is set to overtake the U.S. as the world’s largest smartphone market, little-known Chinese firms are prepared to battle it out for market dominance with the maker of the game-changing iPhone, Apple (AAPL). As per the predictions of IDC and Gartner, China’s smartphone shipments could hit 140 million this year, exceeding those in the United States.
There are a number of Chinese brands offering similar capabilities, nominally, as the iPhone at half the price, most of them using a forked version of Google’s (GOOG) Android. The names include ZTE Corp., Lenovo Group, and other small private firms like Xiaomi, Gionee, and Meizu Technology. Even cheaper smartphones are offered by Alibaba Group, Shanda Interactive, and Baidu (BIDU) for fewer than ¥1,000 (~$150 U.S.).
Xiaomi Technology, founded just two years ago, has emerged as a serious potential threat to the likes of Apple and Samsung in smartphone arena. According to its CEO, the company sold more than 3 million phones with revenues close to $1 billion for the first half of 2012. Its latest offering, a successor to its popular MiOne (MI) smartphone, the MI2, costs less than half the price of iPhone 4S, but exceeds its specifications. Xiaomi not only tries to mimic the iPhone’s specifications, but has also been able to charge fans ¥199 (~$31) to attend the Beijing launch of the phone, the same way as Apple followers would pay to see Steve Jobs showcasing new products. The Xiaomi conference was attended by more than 1,000 people, with the proceeds going to charity. The MI2, which is expected to hit the markets in October, will have quad-core Qualcomm (QCOM) S4 Pro SoC, an 8 mega-pixel camera, and a voice-assistant similar to Apple’s Siri, and is priced at ¥1,999 ($310). This is no cheap knock-off, but rather a serious piece of hardware packed with the latest technology.
The fascinating part of Android’s rise here is that Microsoft (MSFT) will likely see more profit from many of these phones than Google will due to the licensing agreements many of them have made to avoid patent issues with Redmond. Reports are spotty, but Microsoft collects anywhere from $5 to $15 per Android license and has deals with at least half of the phones sold. Moreover, it is very possible it makes more money than Google does.
In the coming years it is expected that Apple’s market share may flatten out or even dip, as it has this year, but market share is not Apple’s goal; it has always been about margins — selling a premium product at extremely high margins to those with the resources to not care about the upfront cost. Estimates from IDC place the sub-$200 smartphone at 40% of the shipments, while devices costing more than $700 made up 11% of the market, which is where Apple plays and why it still controls most of the profits generated by the industry. China and India make up 40% of new smartphone activations.
This huge difference in shipments is mainly due to the limited purchasing power of an average Chinese person, which is around ¥800-¥1,500 ($130-$240). By contrast, the iPhone comes with a price tag of around $800, the equivalent of two months of earnings of an urban Chinese person (in an area that has around 670 million people).
According to a report from Gartner, Apple’s market share by volume has been sliding and iOS‘ share of the mobile operating system space is expected to slip to third place by 2016 below Android and Windows Phone. The Gartner report is, however, very controversial as Windows Phone has not proven anything to this point, although Nokia’s (NOK) sales of its Lumia 610 and Asha line of proto-smartphones are keeping its brand alive while it searches for the killer phone. Even in its second-largest market, iPhone sales slipped for the April-June quarter due to inventory adjustments after the huge launch of the iPhone 4S.
Apart from these estimates, Apple also suffers on various fronts in China. The iPhone is backed by China Telecom and China Unicom, but the country’s and the world’s leading telco China Mobile (with about 655 million subscribers) has still not supported it. Apple and China Mobile are still working on the details of China Mobile’s implementation of CDMA, which requires Apple to build a specific phone for its network.
Responding to the competition and the difference between the iPhone and the local offerings, Apple recently slashed the price of the iPhone 3GS below $200. While an entry-level Apple phone is something that the market will absorb, part of Apple’s appeal is the status it confers and a 3GS simply not a strong enough status symbol to drive sales. Mix in that with Chinese preferences for buying from Chinese companies and this market becomes a whole lot harder for Apple to maintain not its sales per se — it can manipulate prices to maintain sales — but its extreme margins. The latest earnings call highlighted this as it sold a lot of lower-end iPads and iPhones in Asia, which pushed its results and future guidance under 40% net margins.
Companies like Lenovo, ZTE, and Huawei are gaining because they are Chinese and are providing good products at reasonable prices. Lenovo, in particular, is pushing its smartphone and PC strategy both up and down the value chain, similar to Samsung’s approach. It is working very well for Lenovo, whose revenues were up 40% in the second quarter when everyone else was complaining of softening business.
Apple’s problems are the standard problems for a company on top of the world; everyone will nibble away at it in various little ways. How it responds to this is key.
The recent lawsuit victory over Samsung and its pressing of the legal attack smacks of a company that is frightened. Why should it fear Samsung? And if it doesn’t, why did it go after Samsung and restrict consumer choice, a clear breach of its branding compact with its fans? Is it trying to push Samsung into Windows 8 Phone’s arms? All of these things point to further margin erosion for Apple and a slowing of its titanic growth without a new market to push into. As things stand now, staking a new position in Apple requires believing none of these issues matter.
It points to Apple becoming a value trap at some point in the future. Not every country, especially China, will grant Apple an injunction against knockoff competition; quite the opposite is true. Many investors are sitting on capital gains so large they can’t sell, and the dividend will pay them well enough to stay in even if the price goes nowhere. But new investors should be very careful in light of the market dynamics.

Microsoft adding staff, R&D in China mobile push [Associated Press, Sept 6, 2012]

BEIJING (AP) — Microsoft Corp. will hire more than 1,000 additional employees in China this year and boost research and development spending by 15 percent as it tries to catch up with Apple and Google in the fast-growing mobile Internet market, executives said Thursday.
The announcement adds to intensifying competition in wireless Internet in China, where nearly 400 million people surf the Web using mobile phones and other devices. Microsoft is promoting its Windows 8 mobile operating system but came late to the market and trails Apple Inc. and Google Inc., whose Android system is widely used in China.
“We respect that we have two players in the market which have a strong role, and we feel ready to attack and have different offers to basically change the game plan on that one,” said Microsoft’s CEO for China, Ralph Haupter, at a news conference.
The new employees will be in addition to Microsoft’s workforce of 4,500 in China and will be spread across research and development, marketing and customer service, Haupter said.
Research spending in China will rise by 15 percent over last year’s $500 million, according to another executive, Ya-Qin Zhang, Microsoft’s Asia-Pacific chairman for research and development. He said the current research staff of 3,000 would be expanded by about 15 percent.
Global technology companies and local rivals are spending heavily to gain a foothold in mobile Internet in the world’s most populous online market as Chinese users shift quickly to the new technology.
This week, Chinese search engine Baidu Inc. released its own new mobile browser to compete with Google and Apple and announced it will open a cloud computing center.
China had 538 million people online at the end of July, up 11 percent from a year earlier, according to the China Internet Network Information Center, an industry group. The share that uses wireless devices grew twice as fast, rising 22 percent to 388 million, or 70 percent of the total.
Android dominates the Chinese smartphone market, used on 76.7 percent of phones in the second first quarter of this year, according to Analysys International, a research firm. Apple’s iPhone dominates the higher end of the market.
Microsoft plans to recruit more local partners to develop mobile applications specifically for China, said Haupter. He said the company believes it has an advantage in doing that because developers can draw on their experience working on other Microsoft products.
Zhang said Microsoft’s six development centers in China that now spend about 80 percent of their time working on products for global markets will focus more on creating offerings tailored to Chinese customers.
Microsoft also plans to expand its cloud computing business in China, the executives said. Zhang said about 100,000 commercial customers now use its private cloud computing service and a service for use by the public is being developed.

Microsoft Names New Leaders in Key International Markets [Microsoft press release, April 13, 2012]

Ralph Haupter, currently serving as area vice president (AVP) for Microsoft Germany, has been promoted to corporate vice president and named CEO for Microsoft GCR. Haupter is replacing Simon Leung who has decided to leave Microsoft for personal and family reasons. Gordon Frazer, currently serving as managing director (MD) for Microsoft U.K., has been named chief operating officer (COO) for Microsoft GCR. He is replacing Michel van der Bel, who will assume the role of MD for Microsoft U.K. Haupter and van der Bel will report to Jean-Philippe Courtois, president of Microsoft International, and Frazer will report to Haupter. …
Haupter is a seven-year veteran of Microsoft, having delivered excellent and sustainable results in growth and profitability and repeatedly proving his ability to build and grow high-performing, diverse organizations. He previously served as head of the partner division for Europe, Middle East and Africa and general manager (GM) of Microsoft’s Small and Midmarket Solutions & Partners Group for Western Europe, both based in Paris, and served as COO for Microsoft Germany before becoming the German AVP. Before that, he worked for IBM both in Germany and internationally.
Frazer is a 16-year veteran of Microsoft, having served as the GM for Microsoft South Africa for four years and most recently as the Microsoft U.K. MD for the past six years. He brings a tremendous amount of operational expertise to the Microsoft GCR team from his various roles across both developed and emerging markets. His leadership in managing the full breadth and depth of Microsoft’s business in the U.K. will serve as a strong asset in helping take Microsoft China’s operations to the next level of efficiency and growth.

Leading the New Era, Winning the Future—Microsoft Announces Development Strategy in China [Microsoft China press release, Sept 6, 2012]

Partnering for an Innovative, Competitive, and Talented China

New leadership team in Greater China
(third from left is the COO Gordon Frazer and the fourth is the CEO Ralph Haupter)
September 6, 2012, Beijing– Microsoft China today announced its new strategy and commitment to partnering with the country for an innovative, competitive and talented China by further enhancing and accelerating investments. In the new fiscal year, Microsoft will recruit more than 1,000 staff in China, 50% of which will be college graduates. Microsoft’s annual R&D investment will exceed $500 million, and the company will explore local markets in more provinces and deepen its engagement in industrial informatization.
Over two decades of growth, Microsoft China has continued to penetrate deeply into increasingly important local markets. Ralph Haupter, Corporate Vice President, Chairman & CEO Microsoft Greater China Region, said: “Since entering China 20 years ago, Microsoft has grown steadily in China and acquired a deeper understanding of the Chinese market. Our new strategy reflects our perception, emphasis and commitment to the China market. In this new era, China and the entire Greater China Region will become the source of global innovations. Through comprehensive devices and services combined with cloud computing, Microsoft is working closely with the Chinese government, partners, customers and the academic world, entering this new era by leveraging our advantages.”
Haupter stressed that this year is a big year for Microsoft, with the introduction of many new products and technologies, and also a year where Microsoft China is making a great effort to further develop the market. “Our new leadership team in Greater China has helped develop a new strategy for customers and partners, deepening cooperation with governments of all levels to strengthen innovation in China. The team will popularize new technologies and explore new markets,” Haupter said.
Through continuous investment of innovation resources and improving the scale of partnerships in China over the years, Microsoft Asia-Pacific R&D Group has become Microsoft’s largest R&D base outside of the United States, with the most complete functions and innovation chain covering basic research, technology incubation, product R&D and industry cooperation. Chinese R&D teams have made great contributions to Microsoft products launched this year, such as Windows Server2012, Windows 8, New Office, SQL Server 2012 and Surface. Ya-Qin Zhang, Corporate Vice President and Chairman of Microsoft Asia-Pacific R&D Group, said: “We are lucky to be in an era where globalization is deepening, the IT revolution is emerging and China is rising. Microsoft’s continuous exploration in natural human-machine interfaces, mobile Internet and cloud computing will help us win the future and contribute to China’s sustainable development.”
Samuel Shen, COO of Microsoft Asia-Pacific R&D Group, said Microsoft’s software outsourcing business was now worth more than $200 million per year. In the future, Microsoft will continue to work closely with local communities through programs such as the Internet of Things, Big Data, cloud computing, cloud-based smart cities and the Microsoft Accelerator for Cloud Computing, accelerating the vision of “Innovation in China, Innovation for the World”
According to Microsoft’s new strategy in China, Microsoft is committed to cooperating with the Chinese government and industry, aligning with China’s priorities and partnering for an Innovative, Competitive, and Talented China. Gordon Frazer, Vice President and COO of Microsoft Greater China Region, said that over the next five years, Microsoft China will expand its footprint in China, deepen cooperation with governments of all levels and partners, improve customer support and foster talents on a broad scale:
  • Expand Microsoft’s footprint in local markets: Over the next five years, Microsoft will expand its presence in over 20 cities across 15 provinces by expanding local teams, enhancing local management, working closely with local governments, making contributions to local informatization, building cloud-based smart cities, and providing cloud-based solutions for e-government, city management and citizen services.
  • Accelerate local partner ecosystems and expand service coverage: Microsoft will deepen customer services, deliver joint services and solutions with partners, and engage in further convergence of informatization and industry upgrading to improve the core competency of Chinese enterprises. By the end of this year, Microsoft will set up its second technical support center in China to enhance support for Chinese customers and partners, share best practices and knowledge of supporting global customers to help them accelerate the adoption of new technologies and share with them the experience of providing cloud services to customers in Asia. Microsoft will also drive partners’ development through many forms: system-grade innovation support for OEMs, software engineering assistance for software outsourcing companies and innovative design references for hardware manufacturers.
  • Foster talents in a large scale: Over the next five years, Microsoft will hire more talent in China to better serve and support its partners in China, foster talents for the Chinese software industry and improve the skills of Chinese youths.

China to Overtake United States in Smartphone Shipments in 2012, According to IDC [IDC press release, Aug 30, 2012]

Top Five Smartphone Markets and Market Share for 2011, 2012, and 2016 (based on shipments)

Country 2011 Market Share 2012 Market Share 2016 Market Share 2011 – 2016 CAGR
PRC 18.3% 26.5% 23.0% 26.2%
USA 21.3% 17.8% 14.5% 11.6%
India 2.2% 2.5% 8.5% 57.5%
Brazil 1.8% 2.3% 4.4% 44.0%
United Kingdom 5.3% 4.5% 3.6% 11.5%
Rest of World 51.1% 46.4% 46.0% 18.1%
Total 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 20.5%

Source: IDC Worldwide Mobile Phone Tracker, 2012 Q2 Forecast Release, August 30 2012

Strong end-user demand and an appetite for lower-priced smartphones will make China (PRC) the largest market for smartphones this year, overtaking the United States as the global leader in smartphone shipments. According to the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, China will account for 26.5% of all smartphone shipments in 2012, compared to 17.8% for the United States.
“Looking ahead, the PRC smartphone market will continue to be lifted by the sub-US$200 Android segment,” said Wong Teck-Zhung, senior market analyst, Client Devices, IDC Asia/Pacific. “Near-term prices in the low-end segment will come down to US$100 and below as competition for market share intensifies among smartphone vendors. Carrier-subsidized and customized handsets from domestic vendors will further support the migration to smartphones and boost shipments. Looking ahead to the later years in the forecast, the move to 4G networks will be another growth catalyst.”
“Regionally, we expect smartphone demand to flow down to lower-tier cities,” added James Yan, senior market analyst for Computing Systems Research at IDC China. “After going through a period of sustained high growth, top-tier cities are likely to see decelerating smartphone growth rates. In contrast, secondary cities are expected to experience accelerated smartphone growth, with strong demand for low-cost models as well as high-end models, which are desired as status symbols.”
“The fact that China will overtake the United States in smartphone shipments does not mean that the U.S. smartphone market is grinding to a halt,” said Ramon Llamas, senior research analyst with IDC’s Mobile Phone Technology and Trends program. “Now that smartphones represent the majority of mobile phone shipments, growth is expected to continue, but at a slower pace. There is still a market for first-time users as well as thriving upgrade opportunities.”
“In addition to China and the United States, several other countries will emerge as key markets for smartphone shipment volume over the next five years,” said Kevin Restivo, senior research analyst with IDC’s Worldwide Mobile Phone Tracker program. “High-growth countries such as Brazil and Russia will become some of the most hotly contested markets as vendors seek to capture new customers and market share.”
Top Five Markets for Smartphone Shipments
As it becomes the leading country for smartphone shipments this year, the PRC smartphone market will continue to grow, primarily on demand for lower-cost handsets. While this bodes well from a volume perspective, it also means lower average sales values (ASVs), thinner margins, and increased competition from all players. Over the course of the forecast, China’s share of the global smartphone market will decline somewhat as smartphone adoption accelerates in other emerging markets.
Smartphone shipments into the United States will increase as users upgrade their devices and feature-phone users switch over to smartphones. Furthermore, a combination of lower-priced models, expansion of 4G networks, and the proliferation of shared data plans will encourage continued smartphone adoption. Smartphones are already the device of choice at the major carriers, and regional and prepaid carriers are following suit and competing with alternative service plans.
With smartphone penetration in India currently among the lowest in Asia/Pacific, the market has tremendous untapped growth potential. Low-end smartphones offering dual-SIM capability and local apps and priced around US$100 will rapidly bring this market to life. Although 3G data plans are currently too expensive for the majority of consumers in India, IDC expects the popularization of 3G, and in later years 4G, to drive smartphone uptake as operators roll out more affordable data plans and generous subsidies while expanding offerings to tier 2 and tier 3 cities. The affordability of service plans will be another important key to smartphone adoption in India.
Smartphone growth in Brazil will be bolstered by strategic investments by mobile operators, smartphone vendors, and regulators. Operators’ focus on increasing ARPU will drive greater demand for smartphones while smartphone vendors will look to reap greater profitability from offering such devices. The Brazilian government, meanwhile, will offer tax exemptions for smartphones and protect local manufacturing against foreign vendors. These factors, combined with solid end-user demand, will drive smartphone volumes in the coming years.
The United Kingdom has been one of the fastest growing smartphone markets in Western Europe, driven by the high operator subsidies and long-term post-paid contracts. Over the forecast period, smartphone shipments will continue to increase due to the introduction of LTE and a new range of services that will appeal to heavy smartphone users. In addition, price erosion on HSPA devices will also attract feature phones users. Growth rates will slow in the later years of the forecast as penetration plateaus and operators seek out alternative subsidy models.


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