Smartphone shipments drop for the first time in six years

In 2011, China surpassed the US as the world largest smartphone market.

China is the world's largest smartphone market.

Smartphone shipments into the world biggest smartphone market, China, have declined for the first time in six years.

According to market research firm, IDC, the number of smartphones shipped fell by 4% to 98.8 million units in the first quarter of 2015 compared to the same period last year.

Shipments were also down 8% between the last quarter of last year and the first quarter of this year, said IDC. The firm also said a build of unsold stock is also causing a slowdown in the maturing Chinese mobile market.

"China is often thought of as an emerging market but the reality is that the vast majority of phones sold in China today are smartphones, similar to other mature markets like the US, UK, Australia, and Japan," managing director at IDC China, Kitty Fok said.

"Just like these markets, convincing existing users as well as feature phone users to upgrade to new smartphones will now be the key to further growth in the China market."

In 2011, China surpassed the US as the world largest smartphone market. IDC says it expects flat growth in the Chinese market this year, adding that Chinese manufacturers will most likely focus on expanding in global markets such as India and South East Asia, as the country’s growth slows.

China’s Xaomi was overtaken by American giant Apple in the first quarter to be the top smartphone provider in the country due to consumers preferring the larger screens on its latest flagship models, says IDC. Apple now has 14.7% of the market, while Xiaomi has a still respectable 13.7% although the Chinese smartphone maker has said it is focusing on expanding abroad.

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