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Apple's iPhone fails to close gap against Samsung in China

According to data out of China, Samsung currently has three times the market share that Apple does in what is quickly becoming the most important market in the world.


Apple is having an exceedingly difficult time trying to match Samsung in China, a new report claims.

According to Bloomberg, which obtained Chinese market share data from research firm Gartner, Samsung's line of smartphones has more than triple the market share the iPhone has in that country, nabbing 24.3 percent share, compared with Apple's 7.5 percent.

Apple has been selling the iPhone through No. 3 carrier China Unicom since late 2009.

Apple started selling its iPhone on China Telecom's service last week. China Telecom is the country's second-largest carrier with an estimated 129 million subscribers. That said, the big fish in China is China Mobile, with 650 million subscribers nationwide. Despite its repeated attempts, Apple hasn't been able to bring the iPhone to that service.

In November, Sterne Agee analyst Shaw Wu reported, citing unidentified sources, that China Mobile was willing to ink a deal with Apple on one condition: it would need to receive a slice of App Store revenue. As one might expect, Apple balked at the offer, forcing it to go elsewhere to expand its China footprint.

Samsung, by contrast, has allied itself with all three of China's top mobile carriers, giving it a much larger subscriber base to draw from. That, Gartner analyst Sandy Shen told Bloomberg in an interview published yesterday, could be enough to give Apple little to no chance of catching up with Samsung in China "anytime soon."

That's a real issue for Apple. China is now the world's largest smartphone market, shipping nearly 24 million smartphones inside the country in the third quarte, alone. The country also recently passed the 1-billion-mobile-subscriber mark, making it the biggest growth opportunity in the world. To dominate that market would mean significant cash flow for any mobile firm.

But there's still a big world out there. And globally, Apple is beating Samsung quite handily. During the fourth quarter, Juniper Research revealed that Apple owned 25 percent of the worldwide smartphone market, selling 37 million iPhones during the period. Samsung came in second place with 21.7 percent share.

Apple did not immediately respond to CNET's request for comment on Gartner's findings.