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TrendForce:Samsung Replaces Nokia as Top Smartphone Brand in China

19 March 2013 Consumer Electronics

Samsung has surpassed Nokia as the most commonly used smartphone brand in China since the third quarter of 2012, according to a consumer research report on smartphone use in China conducted by Avanti, a division of global market research firm TrendForce. While Apple comes in third, with strong scores in the “brand image” and “intent to purchase” categories, a more affordably priced iPhone could very well put the manufacturer back on top in China.

Samsung Becomes Dominant Smartphone Brand

In the category of brands used most often, Samsung surpassed leader Nokia in the third quarter of 2012. Apple came in third with 10%, and HTC was close behind. Notably, Nokia’s percentage dropped rapidly after the third quarter; if this continues, the manufacturer may fall behind Apple this year. While China’s domestic brands Huawei, Xiaomi, etc. did not make it into the top three, all show steady growth.

As for brands consumers have used in the past, Nokia and Samsung are neck and neck. Currently, Samsung beats out Nokia as the most commonly used smartphone brand with 20.3% and 14.3%, respectively.

iPhone Shows Strongest Brand Image

When it comes to brand image, the ranking changes. The iPhone surpassed Samsung in the second quarter of 2012, while Nokia’s brand image has been slipping quarterly. The decline in Nokia’s brand image slowed in the fourth quarter though, likely due to promotion of the new Windows Phone in China. HTC lost to Nokia by just a few percentage points in the fourth quarter, while Xiaomi, Huawei, Lenovo, and ZTE saw significant improvement over 2011.

iPhone Most Desired Next Purchase, Samsung’s Percentage Increases

The iPhone also came out on top as the brand most consumers intend to choose for their next smartphone purchase. However, as the iPhone’s price tag is relatively high, not everyone that names the smartphone as their most desired next purchase will actually buy it; a lower-priced model would certainly boost the brand’s performance in China.

Samsung, on the other hand, has seen improvement in the category, and intent to purchase is more accurately reflected in use figures. Thus, the short-term outlook for Samsung’s growth in China is very optimistic. HTC and Xiaomi outperformed Nokia is the category; although Nokia managed to stay in the top five in the fourth quarter of 2012, the manufacturer’s score has been slipping in all categories.

Samsung, Apple Remain in Lead; China’s Brands Show Steady Growth

Generally speaking, Samsung and Apple are expected to continue improving, while Nokia will have to rely on the Windows Phone, which unfortunately has not seen impressive sales as of yet, to turn things around. HTC is more or less a leading smartphone brand in China, but still has plenty of room for improvement. Of China’s domestic brands, Xiaomi has seen the strongest growth, showing stronger performance than the others in terms of both price-to-performance ratio and reputation. Huawei’s sales have been mediocre, but that could easily change if the manufacturer invested in high-end models. As for Lenovo, entering the smartphone market with a strong background in PCs provides the manufacturer with an integrated sales model that should see strong growth in the future.

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