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China takes Android and iOS activations crown

Smart device growth surging in People's Republic

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China has passed yet another mobile milestone, beating the US to top spot in iOS and Android activations for the first time and surging to become the world’s fastest growing market for mobile applications, according to new stats from mobile analytics firm Flurry.

The stats highlight the rapid maturation of the country’s mobile industry, driven by huge user numbers and an ever-expanding middle class, the firm said.

In February, China overtook the US in monthly new iOS and Android device activations and now accounts for 24 per cent of the world’s total compared to 21 per cent in the States. To put this in perspective, in January 2011 China accounted for just eight per cent while the US was way out in front with 28 per cent of the world’s share.

Flurry is predicting that, with an installed base of mobile users twice the size of the next largest market, the UK, it won’t be long before China is challenging the US in terms of most active smart devices in the world.

Gartner is predicting similar stellar growth for the smartphone market in China. Analyst Sandy Shen told The Reg recently that around 20 per cent of mobile phone shipments in the People’s Republic are smartphones while installed base is around 10 per cent, but that both of these figures will double in the next three years.

IDC also predicted recently that in smartphone sales alone, China would overtake the US this year.

The majority of the country’s billion-strong army of mobile users are still on pretty limited 2G feature phones, using their device simply for text and voice calls, but home-grown handset makers such as Huawei and Xiaomi are producing a growing range of budget devices to appeal to price sensitive consumers.

The quality of the service they receive on these devices however is up for debate, with 3G having been branded by many as a failure in China and 4G still years away after a senior minister revealed that licenses would not be handed out to operators until they doubled the number of base stations.

Devices aside, Flurry also found that China is the fastest growing country in the world in terms of apps sessions – the launch and use of an app.

App sessions growth from Q1 2011 to Q1 2012 stood at a staggering 1126 per cent, nearly double that of closest rival Argentina, where apps sessions grew 599 per cent over the period.

“China’s growth rate is particularly staggering given that it was already the world’s seventh largest country in terms of app sessions by the end of Q1 2011,” noted Flurry. “This speaks to the country’s sheer population as well as increasing affluence among a meaningful part of its population.”

This is not to say that the US isn’t growing too – in fact it doubled its total number of app sessions during the period – but the rest of the world is growing faster, said Flurry.

Stats for the UK weren’t broken out separately but it is placed third in the world in terms of app sessions. ®

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