Buoyed by strong demand for the iPhone 5s, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) managed to garner 7 percent of China’s smartphone market in the fourth quarter of 2013, up slightly from 6 percent a quarter earlier.
The fourth quarter was the first full quarter following Apple’s launch of its latest models, the 5s and the 5c, which came out in September. The new phones’ popularity in mainland China has allowed the Cupertino, Calif.-based company to grab a larger share of the world’s largest smartphone market, according to data from research firm IDC. In October, the 5s was the best-selling smartphone model in the world.
Apple remains the fifth-largest smartphone vendor in the Chinese market, where cheaper Android models tend to be more popular. Korean smartphone maker Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. (KRX:005930) has held its lead in China with 19 percent of the market, trading on its offering of a range of smartphones in various price tiers. Lenovo Group Limited (HKG:0992), Coolpad from Shenzhen-based Yulong Computer Telecommunication Scientific, and Huawei Technologies filled out the next three spots, with 13, 11 and 10 percent, respectively, of the market, the Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday.
Following close behind Apple is Xiaomi, a domestic brand that made headlines when it managed to lure Hugo Barra, the head of product management at the Android mobile unit at the time, away from Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG). The company has a six percent market share just three years after it entered the smartphone market, and it is still on the rise.
“If I do my job right, in a few years, the world will be talking about Xiaomi in the same way that they talk about Google and Apple today,” Barra said at the time of his move to Xiaomi, in an interview with All Things Digital.
But Apple has factors in its favor and reason to hope for a stellar 2014. At the end of 2013, the company finally inked a partnership with China Mobile Ltd. (NYSE:CHL), the biggest mobile carrier in China with more than 760 million subscribers. Sales through China Mobile did not begin until January, and first quarter results should get a healthy boost as a result.