Don’t underestimate the power of China when it comes to the cellphone market. ZTE, based in the populous Asian nation, became the world’s No. 4 maker of mobile phones, overtaking Apple, which held the spot in the previous three-month period.
During the third-quarter, ZTE shipped 18.5 million cell phones, a jump from 14 million devices during the same period in 2010, research firm Strategy Analytics announced Thursday. Falling to No. 5, Apple shipped 17.1 million iPhones, up from 14.1 million units in the third quarter of last year, but down from 20.34 million in the previous quarter.
According to the researchers, global cell phone shipments rose 14 percent annually to 390 million handsets. “ZTE’s growth is being driven by competitive pricing of entry-level models for feature phones and Android smartphones,” said senior analyst Alex Spector in a statement.
Apple CEO Tim Cook, speaking to reporters at the tech giant’s most recent financial report, called China “an enormous opportunity.” One of every six dollars the tech giant earned during fiscal 2011 reportedly came from China sales.
The new research also indicated South Korean-based Samsung overtook Apple as the top-selling smartphone manufacturer in the third quarter. Some observers blame Apple’s drop in sales rankings on its delayed launch of the iPhone 4S, pushing sales figures into the fiscal fourth quarter or the first quarter of 2012.