IDC (International Data Corporation, a global market intelligence firm) announced last week that recent trends of smartphone shipments show two things: first, that China will become the largest ‘country-level’ market for the devices in 2012, and India and Brazil will join the top 5 markets by 2016. More recently still, China passed the USA in terms of phones being ‘activated’.
Given the Chinese government’s relationship with networking technology and the internet, and the inherent dynamism offered by smartphones in terms of rooting, sharing and portability, it will be interesting to see what, if any, impact the increase in devices will have on Chinese civil society. Having said that, ‘customised’ handsets per region are a common occurrence, due to manufacturing and market pressures, and it is not hard to imagine the smartphone acting as a purely ‘neutral’ communication tool for most Chinese. Indeed, business networking and the app market will surely be enormously strong features for such a large, integrated market. The latter especially will surely force the majority, or a significant portion, of global app development to look to China.
It also highlights the rise of Chinese wages, as reported recently in the Economist. Whilst IDC believes smartphone manufacturers will need to ‘customise’ handsets to meet developing market spending power, the Chinese market seems set to both expand in pure numbers, and in wealth generation. Domestic firms in particular, like ZTC, Huawei and Lenovo are likely to be watching eagerly, and working very closely in tune with both government and business to provide what is needed for this voracious market.