The dangers of the mobile market in China

Today’s must-read comes courtesy of The Register, which highlights how treacherous the mobile market in China can be. ¬†The piece cites¬†fresh data from the Chinese search giant Baidu (and presented by Enders analyst Benedict Evans here) that indicates usage of Android handsets from manufacturers such as Samsung and HTC may be waning in China, usage of much Android gadgets by much smaller manufacturers is on the rise. As Evans writes, that army of more than a thousand manufacturers “is squeezing all the branded OEMs and pushing prices down relentlessly.”
That’s bad news for high-profile Android manufacturers, obviously: China overtook the U.S. as the world’s largest smartphone market more than a year ago, and smartphone shipments are expected to double those in the U.S. this year. But as El Reg‘s piece points out, there’s also a huge downside for Google here. While the cut-rate handsets are running Android, they’re otherwise stripped of Google’s portfolio of mobile services and apps. Which means Google can’t access the invaluable information such as location and search history that helps the company deliver highly-targeted — and highly lucrative — advertisements. That’s one more thing to keep in mind the next time you read about Android’s dominant worldwide market share.