According to Morgan Keegan analyst Tavis McCourt Chinese consumers purchased 8 to 10 million smartphones last quarter–implying 400% growth from the 2 to 3 million last year.
How quickly things change. According to McCourt, Android now represents nearly 50 percent of smartphone volume in the country, up from zero last year. And Apple’s iOS, while a niche player with less than 500,000 iPhones sold last quarter, is ramping up quickly, thanks to the successful launch of the iPhone 4 in the country last month.
The growth of Android is far beyond what a single company can engineer. It represents the effect of uncoordinated and uncontrolled distribution. Google does not have to market, license or write contracts for Android. It also does not necessarily benefit from this work. It enables excess device manufacturing and distribution capacity to embrace browser-enabled devices.
Android is clearly accelerating smartphone adoption and is competing very effectively with non-consumption. Without Android I doubt many of the Chinese manufacturers who are building more smartphones today would be doing it.
One question that remains with is whether Google will do anything to police the platform or leave it to run and splinter.
Another question is what will current Android users aspire to purchase for their next phone.