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May 2, 2012 at 11:59 AM

China now world’s largest smartphone market, Canalys says

Research firm Canalys says China has overtaken the United States as the world’s largest smartphone market.

Though total shipments worldwide grew 45 percent for the first quarter of 2012 compared to the year-ago period, shipments in the U.S. rose just 5 percent during that time. In the Asia Pacific region, though, shipments grew 81 percent.

China overtook the U.S. for the first time in the first quarter, with shipments that doubled from a year ago and that represented 22 percent of the global market. The U.S. accounted for 16 percent. A year ago, those figures were the other way around, the Canalys news release says.

China’s figures were boosted by the arrival of the iPhone on two of the country’s carriers, though Samsung held the lead with 22 percent of the China smartphone share. Apple had 19 percent, according to Canalys.

Nokia fell to third place in China but Canalys says the launch of the Lumia Windows Phones on two carriers there should help the Finnish phonemaker in the second quarter.

Two-thirds of the smartphones shipping in China in the first quarter were Android phones, Canalys notes.

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