Samsung ships 12.5 million smartphones to Chinese market

The lion's share of shipments came from low and mid-tier handsets

Samsung Electronics shipped 12.5 million smartphones to the Chinese market during the first quarter, the most it has shipped to the country in a single quarter, according to research firm Strategy Analytics.

The company remained China's largest smartphone vendor with an 18.5 percent market share, up 2.2 percentage points from the previous quarter.

Samsung had great success in selling its flagship Samsung Galaxy S3 device to all three of the nation's mobile carriers, said Woody Oh, an analyst with Strategy Analytics, on Tuesday. It's the first time the company has shipped over 10 million smartphones to the country in a single quarter.

"Samsung has a good distribution network with retailers in China. It can provide a bunch of smartphones in multiple areas in China," he said. "Samsung has also been putting a lot of resources to customizing its applications in China."

But the lion's share of Samsung's 12.5 million shipments to China were for its low-end to mid-tier smartphones, Oh said. China is a price-sensitive market, where consumers tend to favor buying affordable smartphones, he said.

In future, Samsung will face more intense competition from China's local handset makers, Oh added. Companies such as Huawei Technologies, ZTE and Lenovo will continue releasing lower-priced handsets, which could pose a threat to Samsung's market share in the second half of this year.

In China, Samsung's newly released Galaxy S4 smartphone sells for 5199 yuan (US$841) without carrier subsidies. In contrast, Huawei's new 6.1-inch smartphone, the Huawei Ascend Mate, comes in at 2688 yuan.

But despite the Galaxy S4's high price, the handset will help maintain the company's brand image in China as a cutting-edge technology vendor, Oh said.

Last week, Samsung announced that it had sold more than 10 million Galaxy S4 phones less than a month after launch. This beat first-month sales for Samsung's previous flagship phones.

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