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Apple closes gap with Samsung in China market

Samsung Electronics’ smartphone market share in China fell in the fourth quarter of 2013 as its rival Apple saw a marked increase. Analysts said Apple would continue to see a rise in the first quarter of this year as it recently signed a new deal with China’s largest telecom carrier China Mobile Communications Corporation.

According to research firm Strategy Analytics, Samsung’s smartphone market share in China dropped to 19.1 percent, from 21.6 percent in the previous quarter. Apple rose to 7.3 percent from 4.8 percent, mainly thanks to the unveiling of its new iPhones last September.

“Samsung would see a further decline in the market share in the first quarter as Apple’s partnership with China Mobile would continue to boost its sales,” said Seo Won-seok, an analyst of Korea Investment & Securities Co.

Apple sold a record 51 million iPhones in the year-end period, largely due to the sales rise in China. Its revenue in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan reached $8.8 billion, an increase of 54 percent from the previous quarter and 29 percent year on-year.

Apple’s deal with China Mobile will further boost its sales this year. Xi Guohua, chairman of China Mobile, which has more than 760 million subscribers, said the preorders of iPhones have already hit 1 million.

For the partnership between Apple and China Mobile, “Samsung will respond with its long-term evolution technology, global market experience and the premium branding strategies in the Chinese market,” said Kim Hyun-joon, vice president of Samsung’s mobile business, in a conference call last month.

“This year, Samsung will continue to focus on the Chinese and European LTE markets,” he added.

Apart from Apple, Samsung also faces challenges from growing Chinese electronics companies. Lenovo, which recently bought Google’s Motorola mobility, is fast catching up with Samsung in the Chinese market, gaining 13.9 percent in the fourth quarter.

By Shin Ji-hye (shinjh@heraldcorp.com)
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