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Innovation barrier next hurdle for smartphone

By Doug Young (Global Times)

09:13, November 19, 2012

Chinese smartphone makers have surged in their home market over the last year, coming from out of the blue to challenge big global names like Apple and Samsung. But their rise could be short-lived if they fail to innovate, paralleling a similar rapid rise and fall a decade ago for names like TCL and Ningbo Bird that are now just footnotes in the history of China's large but highly competitive mobile market.

The rapid rise of Chinese brands over the last year has been nothing short of remarkable, as China gets set to overtake the US as the world's largest smartphone market. At the end of last year, the market was still dominated by foreign names, with Samsung, Nokia and Apple occupying three of the top four slots to control more than half of the market collectively.

Fast forward to the third quarter of this year, when domestic players dominated the list with four of the top five slots. Samsung continued to top the list, but the South Korean giant lost major ground as its share slipped to 14 percent from a quarter of the market just a year earlier. Apple, maker of the popular iPhones, saw its share stay relatively stable at about 8 percent. But it was overtaken by rising domestic stars Lenovo, Huawei, ZTE and Chinese Wireless Technologies, makers of the Coolpad brand.

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