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Chinese buyers falling out of love with iPhones

Shunning Samsung, too, in favour of local brands like Xiaomi

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Google famously failed to make a big dent in China and now it looks like Apple may be about to hit the Great Wall too, after new analysis of local sentiment found the fruity company out of favour with local consumers.

The source of that analysis is Taiwan’s TRENDforce which teamed with Chinese outfit AVANTI Research Partners to figure out which smartphones are in demand among Chinese punters, and which brands they recognise.

The research says Apple is struggling in China due to a combination of price and the fact its handsets won’t work with dominant local carriers.

The iPhone nonetheless remains the most-desired next purchase phone for Chinese mobe-wielders, even if just 25 per cent now want to get their hands on the phone instead of the 37 per cent in the previous quarter’s report. Samsung-lust is up from 12.2 per cent to 17.8 per cent.

Local outfit Xiaomi comes in third, with 12.2 per cent of Chinese wanting one of its handsets despite just 14.1 per cent of Chinese recognising its brand. That combination makes Xiaomi a brand to watch, as while it is not shipping handsets at the same rate other locals like Lenovo, Huawei and ZTE have achieved, the research suggests its social media presence means it has captured the Chinese zeitgeist.

Chinese smartphone usage data

TrendForce and AVANTI's analysis of smartphone usage by brand in China

A quick look at Xiaomi.com (with help from translation engines) suggests it’s a pretty slick marketer: a recent online-only sale saw 200,00 phones head out the door in just over 13 minutes.

The cumulative efforts of Xiaomi and its local cousins will, the research says, mean phones from Chinese vendors account for 34 per cent of global smartphone shipments in 2013, up from 28 per cent this year.

Chinese smartphone purchasing intentions data from TrendForce and AVANTI

Chinese smartphone purchasing intentions data from TrendForce and AVANTI

Lenovo’s well-placed to take a chunk of the action, having gone from not having a smartphone business to two per cent of the global market in under a year. Samsung looks at risk of losing market share in China, and beyond, while Blackberry now has just .7 per cent of the Chinese market and is expected to account for only 1.3 per cent of future purchases. Things also look grim for Nokia, as brand recognition of the company as a supplier of smartphones share has collapsed from 91.6 per cent a year ago to 38.2 per cent. ®

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