Samsung Electronics topped China’s smartphone market for the first time in 2012, according to data from Strategy Analytics (reported by Yonhap News Agency). The Korean tech behemoth nearly tripled its sales in the world’s largest market for smartphones: in 2012, it sold 30.06 million smartphones in China, up from 10.9 million handsets a year earlier. According to Strategy Analytics, Samsung now holds a 17.7 percent market share–an astonishingly rapid climb considering that the company only started selling mobile devices in China in 2009.
Chinese company Lenovo took the second spot with market share of 13.2 percent, up four percent from 2011, while Apple came in third with an 11 percent market share, followed by China’s own Huawei Technologies with 9.9 percent and Coolpad with 9.7 percent. Samsung’s fast ascent mirrors Nokia’s quick plummet–the Finnish company is now number seven in China, with 3.7 market share, compared to 29.9 percent in 2011.
Despite Samsung’s dominance in China and its current position as the world’s top smartphone maker, it’s still too early for the company to rest on its laurels. Data from Strategy Analytics showed that Samsung’s fourth-quarter sales lagged behind Apple due to stronger demand for the iPhone 5. In Q4 2012, Samsung Electronics took 28.7 percent of the global smartphone market, much less than Apple’s 42.7 percent–but it’s important to note that a direct sales comparison is difficult because the iPhone 5 launched in September, allowing it to take advantage of the holiday buzz, while Samsung’s Galaxy SIII debuted back in May and sales may be dwindling because users are waiting for their first look at the Galaxy SIV on March 14.
In China, however, Samsung will have to ward off ambitious competitors like Xiaomi, which is busy building up its brand cachet and plans to sell 15 million smartphones this year and Lenovo, which recently declared that it’s their “aspiration” to overtake Samsung as China’s top smartphone maker.