Is Apple WEAKENING in China?

Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) has been planning a special line-up of features for its mobile customers in China with its upcoming iOS 6, but it turns out the company’s hold on the smartphone market in the country is actually weakening. The company’s share of the market almost halved to 10 percent in the last quarter as it fell two spots to fourth place on the list.

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Samsung retained its lead with a 19 percent share, though it dropped two percent from its share in the previous quarter, according to IDC. Local company Lenovo rose to second after increasing its share to 11 percent, and it was followed by ZTE, another Chinese brand.

“There are two things in play,” IDC analyst TZ Wong said about Apple’s fall. “One is seasonal, people know the new phone is coming. And the second is that the alternatives are becoming much more attractive than a year ago. The iPhone didn’t change much over the year.”

Wong said it was inevitable that Chinese brands would gradually gain more share owing to the help they get from carriers China Mobile (NYSE:CHL), China Unicom (NYSE:CHU), and China Telecom (NYSE:CHA). “In the mid- to long-term, it’s very possible they will start to dominate four of the top five (rankings), leaving Samsung as the only one standing. At that point, even Samsung will start to feel the pressure,” he said, according to Reuters.

China is set to overtake the U.S. as the world’s biggest smartphone market this year. Total smartphone shipments in the April to June quarter rose to 44 million, making up 51 percent of China’s total mobile shipments of 87 million. Consumers in China are making the shift due to large subsidies offered on smartphones by the country’s three main carriers as well as affordable devices that have features attractive to a rapidly tech-savvy market.

In the overall mobile phone market, Samsung, Nokia (NYSE:NOK), and ZTE top the rankings for the second quarter, IDC said.

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