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Apple kicked out of China smartphone top 5 by, er, Yulong and pals

Yu-who? no, we hadn't heard of them either

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Chinese smartphone makers managed to force Apple out of the top five in their domestic market in Q3 and account for an increasingly sizeable chunk of global shipments, according to the latest stats from analyst Canalys.

The firm’s soon-to-be-released Q3 2012 country-level estimates saw the fruity tech titan displaced, with little-known Shenzhen firm Yulong Computer Telecommunication Scientific leaping to second on the back of strong sales of its Coolpad range, especially at the budget end.

Samsung continues to sit pretty at the top of the pile with a share of 14 per cent of the world’s biggest smartphone market, with Lenovo breathing down its neck with 13 per cent. Next comes Yulong, ZTE and Huawei, all around the 10 per cent mark.

Apple’s share dropped a percentage point from Q2 to 8 per cent, leaving it trailing in sixth.

The fruity slab purveyor’s lowly position is partly self-inflicted, given its decision to delay the Chinese launch of the iPhone 5 until December, allowing grey market imports to flood the country to meet demand.

However, the stats show Cupertino will find it increasingly difficult to compete in terms of market share with local rivals like Yulong, which are targeting the cheaper, sub-1,000 yuan (£100, $160) end with gusto.

There is a big - and so far successful - push on the part of such players to appeal to the huge number of feature phone users in China, to upgrade their device to a low-cost smartphone.

This is not to say, however, that Apple particularly wants or needs to compete at this lower end.

“The introduction of the iPad Mini demonstrated Apple’s strategy continues to be premium pricing,” Canalys APAC MD, Rachel Lashford, told The Reg.

“Its concern is for revenues. You just have to look at the way Wall Street reacts when there are concerns over margins – that is when things start to dip.”

In total, over 50 million units were apparently shipped in China last quarter, which is a third of the global supply, up from around 42 million in Q2.

A sign of the growing global dominance of Chinese handset makers, Canalys estimated that Lenovo, ZTE and Huawei accounted for over 10 per cent of worldwide shipments in Q3, a figure only set to grow. ®

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