China overtook the US during the first quarter to become the world's largest smartphone market, research firm Canalys claims.
The firm estimates smartphone shipments in China doubled year-on-year during the quarter, with the market representing 22% of global smartphone shipments. In contrast, sales in the US grew just 5%, and the market represented 16% of total shipments. A year earlier, the two markets' respective shares were reversed.
“As well as seasonal factors, such as the Lunar New Year, the iPhone’s arrival at two of the country’s carriers helped boost volume and raised Apple’s share to 19%,” Canalys research director for China Nicole Peng said.
Despite the iPhone effect, it was Samsung that had the largest slice of China's smartphone market during 1Q12, with an estimated market share of 22%.
A full two thirds of the smartphones shipped in China during the quarter used the Android OS, and the market accounts for a quarter of all Android smartphone shipments.
China's rapid growth helped total shipments across the Asia-Pacific region increase by 81% year-on-year during the quarter. But China isn't the only major smartphone market in the region – half of the world’s top ten countries for smartphones are in Asia.