2012 in Review: Smartphone Sales in China ‘Bigger’ Than Expected

With the final days of 2012 now upon us, the obligatory period of reflection has commenced for all aspects of the mobile industry. Not surprisingly, 2012 proved to be a remarkable year for smartphone sales around the world.

But nowhere was the growth more closely monitored – or hyped – than in China.

Based on the projections made this week by Digitimes research, smartphone sales in China are on pace to grow 137% to 189 million units in 2012.

The growth was fueled chiefly by a surge in demand for EDGE and TD-SCDMA models in the second half of the year.

Although Apple has managed to claim the lion-share of headlines regarding smartphone adoption in China, Android is the biggest winner for the calendar year.

Android smartphone market share in China has increased steadily, and is likely to reach 50.8 million units or 86% of total smartphones sales in the fourth quarter of 2012. For all of 2012, sales of Android phones in China are expected to top 157 million units, increasing 260% from a year ago

Apple, however, did launch the iPhone 5 on two of China’s top mobile carriers on December 14th and sold more than 2 million units in the first three days of availability. If the momentum continues, iOS will develop a dramatically more prominent foothold in China next year than it enjoyed in 2012.

In time, many analysts believe that the iOS vs. Android war in the U.S. will similarly play out across Asia in a very intense rivalry that could make the domestic battle for smartphone supremacy seem tame in comparison.