Smartphone sales decline in China

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Smartphone sales decline in China

Smartphone shipments in China fell for the first quarter in more than two years, a sign that growth in the world’s biggest market may moderate, according to market researcher IDC.

There were 90.8 million smartphones shipped in China in the three months ended Dec. 31, down 4.3 percent from 94.8 million in the September quarter, IDC said in a statement on its website.

It was the first drop since the second quarter of 2011.

The slowdown may reflect that China Mobile, the world’s biggest carrier with 767 million subscribers, did not get a commercial license for fourth-generation services until December and only started offering Apple’s iPhones last month, IDC said.

Another factor may be moves by carriers to cut subsidies on devices with smaller screens amid an increasing preference in China for phones with larger displays.

“This is the first hiccup we’ve seen in an otherwise stellar growth path,” Melissa Chau, an IDC analyst, said in the statement. “We are now starting to see a market that is becoming less about capturing the low-hanging fruit of first time smartphone users and moving into the more laborious process of convincing existing users why they should upgrade.”

IDC didn’t release fourth-quarter shipment data for manufacturers.

Samsung Electronics had the biggest market share in China in the third quarter, followed by Lenovo Group, China Wireless Technologies, and Huawei Technologies, according to Canalys. Lenovo recently bought Motorola.

Other homegrown phone makers such as Xiaomi are also gaining traction.

Beijing-based Lenovo last month agreed to buy Google’s Motorola Mobility phone unit for $2.91 billion.

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