Apple stomps to the top of the smartphone market in China, trampling rivals Samsung and even popular homegrown Xiaomi in the fourth quarter. Jane Lanhee Lee explains how they did it.
Apple clinches a victory in China, taking the biggest part of the smartphone market pie thanks to the iPhone 6 and 6 plus - as bigger is better here. Sales in China jumped 70 percent in the last three months of 2014, helping the company ring in its largest profit in corporate history. (SOUNDBITE) (English) REUTERS REPORTER, JANE LANHEE LEE, SAYING: "That jump in sales helped Apple come in at the top for the fourth quarter in China beating out rival Samsung and even local smartphone wonder Xiaomi, according to research firm Canalys. And while official Apple stores like this one are still relatively rare in China, the company plans to have 40 of them in greater China by mid-2016." The score card came as a huge surprise as homegrown smartphones are much cheaper than the iPhone. Xiaomi earlier this month launched the Mi Note, as a direct challenger to the iPhone 6 plus for only about a third of the price. That strategy had worked well for Xiaomi, pushing it to number one just three years after its first smartphone went on sale. But now Apple's on top, and Canalys says Xiaomi is not an immediate threat. Next up, the Apple watch - expected to launch in April. If that takes off with Chinese consumers, it'll help keep up iPhone's momentum on the mainland. But China's smartphone market may have already reached its peak, according to some measures - last year it started to drop. And the nation's economic slowdown isn't helping. So for all smartphone makers selling to the Chinese consumer, calling home with good news will be harder in the year to come. ENDS