China to surpass 1 billion connections by Q2/2012
According to the latest Wireless Intelligence data, China ended 2011 on 973.7 million connections, up about 16% year-on-year (YoY). The number of 3G connections surpassed 200 million in Q4/2011 and accounted for 22% of the total at year-end. Market penetration is estimated at 72%, up almost 10% YoY.
China Mobile remains the country’s clear market leader, with an estimated 648.7 million connections in Q4/2011, giving it a 67%. Meanwhile, Unicom has been the exclusive provider of the iPhone since 2009, while China Telecom is thought to be close to launching a CDMA version of the Apple device. But despite reportedly being in discussions with Apple for several years, China Mobile has yet to launch the device officially, though it is thought to have millions of “unofficial” GSM-enabled iPhones running on its 2G network.
2011 also saw Unicom diversify into regular Android-based smartphones in a bid to offer low-cost smartphones at (or below) the key CNY 1,000 (EUR 122) price point. Unicom said it hopes to ship 90 million CNY 1,000 smartphones (EUR 122) in 2012 and a further 60 million in the CNY 1,000 (EUR 122) to CNY 2,000 (EUR 245) range. One hugely successful low-cost model for Unicom to date has been ZTE’s Blade V880, which has sold more than 3 million units since launching in summer 2011.
Meanwhile, China Telecom says it aims to sell 45 million smartphones this year that will be compatible with its CDMA 2000 EV-DO network, which would account for over half of its forecast 80 million total terminal sales.