Android Takes Over China

Android smartphone growth has been exploding throughout the globe. But nowhere has that growth been more amazing than in China, whose citizens now use Android to the near-complete exclusion of every other contender.

The Web site Tech in Asia reported on statistics from Beijing-based Analysys International, which show Android with a 90.1 percent market share as of Q3 2012. That's a huge jump from 82.8 percent in just the previous quarter, and a near doubling of market share from Q2 2011, when it stood at 46.8 percent.

Somewhat surprisingly, the jump in usage didn't come at the expense of iPhone, but Nokia's Symbian OS instead. Starting with the Q2 2011 timeframe, Symbian's market share collapsed from 31.8 percent to a microscopic 2.4 percent. The iPhone's current market share of 4.2 percent is a decline, but not a huge one, from 7.1 percent in Q2 2011.

Various sources speculate that the top reason for Android's success lies in its price. Currently, an Android phone costs about $233 U.S. in China, compared to $725 U.S. for an iPhone. And with multiple manufacturers competing on cost, unlike the Apple model, prices are likely to stay low compared to iPhones.

The other competitors, chiefly Windows Phone and Research in Motion's (RIM) Blackberry, are barely blips on the radar.

China's figures point to a problem Apple may continue to face: although its phone and apps are in general considered superior to Android's offerings, its premium price can't overcome those advantages. To many buyers, Android is "good enough", and the Android app market, Google Play, offers just as large a variety of apps as Apple's App Store. Given those factors, most consumers aren't willing to shell out significantly more (in China, for example, more than three times as much) for a smartphone experience that nearly equals the iPhone's.

About the Author

Keith Ward is the editor in chief of Virtualization & Cloud Review. Follow him on Twitter @VirtReviewKeith.