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Nokia and Symbian still number one in China

Most users still on legacy platforms and feature phones

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Android may have an insurmountable lead in the Chinese smartphone market, but when it comes to internet-connected mobiles Symbian and Nokia are still number one according to new stats from search giant Baidu.

The company’s latest quarterly Mobile Internet Development Trends Report for Q1 2012 measured only internet-connected phones which have browsed the web through Baidu.

Discarding the category of ‘other’ which came out tops on both counts, the breakdown by brand shows Nokia in the lead with 22 per cent, counterfeit or shanzhai products with 16.1 per cent and Samsung third with a share of 10.4 per cent.

Apple is fourth with 5.9 per cent, which tallies with Analysys International’s estimates that iOS had a smartphone market share of 5.7 per cent by the end of 2011.

The times they are a-changing, however, with Nokia at risk of losing that impressive lead if it doesn’t innovate and produce more smartphones that appeal to users, said Baidu.

It may need more than the recently launched Lumia 800C and the planned 610C to do this, especially given the fierce competition in the smartphone market.

One strategy would be to target the entry-level, which is set to provide great growth opportunities for handset makers in China. In fact, with domestic giants such as Huawei, ZTE and Lenovo all set to launch in that area, the days of shanzhai manufacturers could also be numbered.

“Nokia’s mobile market share continues to drop, with 5.8 [per cent] decrease month-by-month and 18.4 per cent drop year-on-year. Shanzhai phones’ market share is also steadily decreasing, with 4.3 per cent decrease month-by-month and 10.3 per cent drop year-on-year,” said Baidu.

Over on the platform side, Baidu hasn’t broken the results down in English but TechInAsia has a handy translation.

Android is surprisingly down in fourth place with a share of 14.4 per cent, despite an overwhelming lead in the pure-play smartphone market of around 70 per cent, according to Analysys International stats.

Discounting ‘other’ again, number one spot goes to that old classic Symbian S60, with 17.2 per cent of the Baidu-surfing market, followed by MTK – an OS favoured by shanzhai handset makers – with 16.7 per cent, and then the nondescript ‘feature phone’ with 16.1 per cent.

Apple’s iOS is fifth with 5.8 per cent, just a percentage point higher than Symbian on the S40.

All of which proves that while the smartphone market is where most Chinese users are headed, the majority are still on much more basic handsets, according to IDC research manager Ian Song.

“The biggest thing to consider here is that China is still predominately a feature phone market. Based on our sell-in numbers, feature phones made up 75 per cent and smartphones made up 15 per cent of the total PRC mobile phone market in 2011,” he told The Reg.

“Going forward, IDC believes that feature phone brands and OSes will speed up in decline as smartphones becomes cheaper and more useable in China.” ®

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