Two things stand out in the latest quarterly survey of China’s mobile web by search firm Easou.
First is the dominance of China Mobile. Sure, it’s the 800lb gorilla, with over 700m subs, or 69% of the market.
But when it comes to the mobile web its share actually rises to 83%, according to Easou, China’s third largest mobile search provider.
Yet in the 3G market it has just a modest lead, with 37% of customers.
China Mobile is still mainly a 2.5G operator. Even today, more than four-fifths of China’s 1.02 billion mobile users carry a 2G device, and some 80% of online visits are via WAP, according to the Easou survey (in Chinese only). Many sessions are via multiple platforms, with WiFi accounting for 16% and non-WAP for 36% of visits.
The positive for the other two operators is that Mobile's market share is down six points over last year, thanks mainly to their 3G gain.
Bearing in mind that this survey is drawn from Easou's search traffic, which accounts for more than a fifth of the market, the other striking point is the two biggest mobile operating systems. They’re not the usual suspects.
The largest in fact is MTK, a platform offered by Taiwan chip firm Mediatek and which is popular among local brands such as Bird and Lenovo. Between them the many shanzhai firms have racked up just under 30% market share, well ahead of Nokia (25%) and Android (22%). iOS is well back in fourth spot on 5.77%.
Not to write off the latter two - Android added 4.8 points this quarter and is on track to overtake Nokia, which shrank, while iOS grew 1.3 points.
The success of MTK should give pause to global handset players, especially those eyeing developing markets. You wouldn't bet against it.