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Dominant tech giants Samsung and Apple remained the top two smartphone vendors in the first quarter of 2014, according to research by Canalys, but the independent analysis firm has highlighted the rise of their Chinese rivals which now account for half of the top 10 vendors in the world.
Huawei is currently third worldwide in terms of smartphone market share, Lenovo is fourth, Xiaomi is sixth, Yulong is eighth and ZTE is ninth, according to the research group. This adds to the growing trend that the company noted last year with Xiaomi in particular announcing itself on the scene after being a "niche player" at the same period last year. Canadian firm Blackberry has been dumped out of the top ten since the first quarter of 2013.
"Though Samsung remained the leading vendor in China with an 18 percent share, the Chinese smartphone market continues to be driven by the dynamism and aspirations of local vendors," Jingwen Wang, a research analyst at Canalys, said in a press release on Monday evening.
"Helped by its Redmi range, Xiaomi became a top three vendor in China for the first time during the quarter, when just a year ago it was a niche player. This domestic success has helped Xiaomi to become the sixth largest global smartphone vendor, despite 97 percent of its shipments being in mainland China, helped by its competitive hardware and innovative marketing strategy."
However, Wang noted that other Chinese vendors are indeed achieving international success, with 37 percent of TCL-Alcatel's shipments going to Latin America and 23 percent in North America. Meanwhile, ZTE, Huawei and Lenovo shipped 43 percent, 40 percent and 15 percent of their respective handsets outside of China, Canalys added.
It's not only the vendors that are seeing blossoming growth in China but also the amount of consumers. China accounted for 35 percent of global shipments, according to the data, keeping its place as the number one market and substantially ahead of the U.S., which managed just 12 percent.
A key driver for the Chinese market going forward will be the introduction of 4G - the fourth generation of mobile telecommunications technology - which offers users faster download times. Nicole Peng, a research director at Canalys believes that China Mobile will be at the forefront of this, with 70 percent of its subscribers still using 2G.
"The operator hopes to exploit its first-mover advantage in 4G this year, while China Unicom and China Telecom are waiting for (4G licenses) before making significant investments in 4G," she said.
"16 percent of smartphones shipped in China were 4G handsets, compared with 34 percent globally and 80 percent in the U.S."