Apple's legal troubles open opportunities to competitors

Updated: 2012-03-22 07:53

By Tuo Yannan (China Daily)

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Chinese and South Korean companies are moving to take advantage of Apple Inc's struggle over copyright and trademark disputes in the largest market for mobile devices in the world.

The South Korean company Samsung Electronic Co Ltd, which had the largest share of the Chinese market for smartphones and TVs last year, saw its revenue from sales of electronic devices in China reach $9.5 billion in 2011, a 32 percent increase year-on-year. That surpassed the average global growth rate for the company's revenue, which was 21 percent during that period, Kim Young-ha, president of Samsung Greater China, said on Wednesday.

Internet mobile devices include smartphones, tablet PCs and smartTVs. The market for those products is seeing intense competition among Apple, Samsung and the Chinese company Lenovo Group Ltd.

About 25.97 million smartphones were sold in China in the last quarter of 2011. Of those, about 22 percent were sold by Samsung and 6.9 percent by Lenovo. Apple's share, meanwhile, decreased by 1.4 percentage points from 7.1 percent in the first quarter, according to figures provided by the domestic IT research company Analysys International.

Apple's legal troubles open opportunities to competitors

"In January of this year, Lenovo's market share increased to about 10 percent in the smartphone industry," said Yang Yuanqing, president and CEO of Lenovo. "Since Lenovo became the second-largest PC maker globally last year, we have been putting a greater emphasis on mobile Internet products."

To cater to the Chinese market, Samsung plans to introduce a smartphone that uses Google Inc's Android operating system. It will be called Galaxy Beam and will have a device that enables it to project pictures, documents and videos, the company said on Wednesday.

Beyond that, Microsoft Corp introduced its latest mobile operating system, Windows Phone 7.5, to China on the same day. The company's Windows Phone operating system is facing intense competition in China, where more than half of the market for such products is dominated by the Android operating system.

About 6,000 Chinese developers are working on applications for the Windows Phone operating system, as are 100,000 developers throughout the world, according to Microsoft. Its applications store contains 2,000 Chinese applications, said Liang Nianjian, president of Microsoft China.

The market for Internet mobile devices has entered a period of fast growth. More than 90 percent of Chinese employees are believed to be in the habit of bringing their electronic devices to work, said David Sung, China president of the US-based information technology company VMware Inc.

According to the company's latest report, Chinese customers are eager to buy devices for use at their jobs, a tendency that is expected to propel the growth of the Internet mobile market in the near future.

"China is already the biggest market for monitors and desktop PCs as a result of its rapidly developing economy and buyers' larger disposable incomes," said Robin Wu, analyst from the US-based research company DisplaySearch.

Apple still holds about 70 percent of the Chinese market for tablet PCs, which saw 6.4 million of those devices sold last year. But that share has decreased, going from 78 percent in the first quarter of 2011 to 71 percent by the end of the year.

Lenovo held 10 percent of the market for tablet PCs in the fourth quarter of 2011. The Chinese company plans to introduce more tablet computers this year while Apple's popular iPads are being confiscated by Chinese government departments as a result of the company's trademark dispute with a Shenzhen-based Chinese company.

In 2011, 6 million 3D smartTVs were sold in the Chinese market. That number is predicted to increase to 20 million this year, said Lu Renbo, general secretary of the China Electronic Chamber of Commerce.

To compete in China against Apple and Google and other rivals, Samsung and Lenovo have announced plans to introduce new smartTVs in the first half of 2012.

Shen Jingting contributed to this story.