Statistics released yesterday (link via Google Translate) by China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) say that as of the end of November 2012, there were 1.104 billion mobile phone users in that country, an increase of nearly 118 million people during the first eleven months of 2012. This would mean that about 82% of China’s population currently uses a mobile phone (though as commenters noted below, many of these mobile phones could have dual sim cards, which was not taken into account in the MIIT’s report). The number of 3G phone users reached 220 million, or about 20% of mobile phone users. Broadband Internet service users increased by 24.03 million in the first 11 months of the year, while the number of mobile Internet users increased by 111 million to 750 million. From January to November 2012, mobile communications revenue in China totaled 724.53 billion yuan (or about $116.26 billion US dollars), an increase of 11% over the same period last year.
The rapid growth of the Chinese smartphone market means that it is set to top the U.S. iOS and Android install base next year. According to a research report by Flurry released last month, China currently has 167 million iOS or Android devices, compared to 181 million in the U.S.
China pulled ahead of the U.S. in the number of smartphones sold for the first time during Q3 2011 according to Strategy Analytics; during that time frame, 24 million units were sold in China, compared to 23 million in the U.S.
According to research by Gartner, Lenovo, the maker of the Android-powered LePhone, is expected to take the number one smartphone seller slot in China away from Samsung next year, thanks to its strong brand recognition and portfolio of affordable phones. Other local brands to watch include Xiaomi Tech (which is positioning itself as “the Apple of China”), Yulong, ZTE and Huawei. Though the iPhone continues to be hugely popular in China, that has not been enough to keep Apple’s share of that country’s smartphone market from eroding.