Smartphone sales in China declined in the fourth quarter of last year, for the first time in two years, according to a new market report.
From the start of October to the end of December, China's smartphone shipments reached 90.8 million sets, 4.3 percent fewer than the 94.8 million sets in the third quarter of 2013, said the report released by International Data Corporation (IDC) on Thursday.
Smartphone sales experienced explosive growth in the first nine months of last year, leading China to become the world's largest smartphone market in terms of sales, the report said.
IDC attributed the decline to China Mobile's launch of its next-generation 4G TD-LTE network on December 18, 2013. Many customers would have held off buying until supplies of 4G smartphones fully reached the market in the first quarter of 2014.
Tablet PCs also contributed to the decline, with more people turning to these as alternatives to smartphones, according to the market researcher.
"The market focus now shifts from winning first-time smartphone users to persuading old users to upgrade their models," said Melissa Chau, senior researcher at IDC.
The corporation estimated that market growth will slow down in the future while the Asia Pacific (excluding Japan) market is mostly saturated.
However, growth will be seen in emerging markets such as India, which became the third-largest smartphone market in 2013.
As a result of this situation, Chinese smartphone manufacturers such as OPPO, Vivo and Xiaomi, currently little known to international consumers, will bid to accelerate their overseas expansion, said IDC.