NEW YORK China will overtake the United States as the world's biggest smartphone market this year, according to research firm IDC, which expects demand to grow for lower-priced smartphones based on Google Inc's Android software.
IDC forecast that China's share of the smartphone market will increase to 26.5 percent this year from 18.3 percent last year, while U.S. market share declines to 17.8 percent from 21.3 percent.
China's sales will be helped by the availability of Android devices priced at $100 or less due to intensifying competition among smartphone vendors, according to IDC. The research firm expects Chinese carriers to help sales by subsidizing phones.
South Korea's Samsung Electronics Co Ltd is the biggest maker of phones using Android around the world and also in the Chinese market. There it is trailed by domestic companies, including Huawei Technologies Co Ltd, ZTE Corp and Lenovo Group Ltd.
In the U.S., growth is expected to slow this year because smartphones already make up the majority of shipments here.
The United Kingdom, the next biggest smartphone market, will trail behind, with a 4.5 percent market share. India's market share is expected to be 2.5 percent in 2012 and will grow to 8.5 percent in 2016.
(Reporting by Sinead Carew; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)