March 15, 2012 (Chinavestor) Smartphone shipments are expected to grow 50% in 2012 in China, according to the latest study, to 137 million units, topping the U.S. as the largest smartphone market in the world. China Unicom (NYSE:CHU), the second largest mobile carrier after China Mobile (NYSE:CHL) in China, had over 40 million smartphone subscribers at the end of January. Besides the big number, investors have to pay attention to the underlying current - the company adds more and more subscribers to its 3G service each month. Let's just omit January numbers from the chart for this is the time when the Chinese New Year shuts down the country for a week.
The forces behind such phenomenal are obvious - China's fast urbanization. As rural farmers flock to the cities, they get more affluent and can afford a smartphone. And just how fast the urbanization is happening, take a look at the following two charts. They show cities with population over 1 million in 1950 and in 2010. The growth is just staggering. China alone had 89 cities of population over 1 million in 2010! Most of the growth took place in less than 25 years!
Source of data: National Geographics