iPhone tops China’s smartphone wishlist

Apple looks set to see significant growth in China’s mobile market according to the results of a recent survey covered by Fortune blogger Philip Elmer-DeWitt.

In his Apple 2.0 blog DeWitt covers the results of this week’s Alphawise/Morgan Stanley survey which sampled 2,029 Chinese mobile phone owners earlier this year.

From the post:

– 88% of respondents said they expected the next phone they bought would be a smartphone.

– And 30% of those who planned to buy a 3G phone said they expected to buy an iPhone, even at its current price.

– If price were not a consideration, that number would jump to 53%, according to the survey.

Nokia, currently the vendor in China with the largest 3G market share, is also the one with the most to lose.

While surveying such a small sample is unlikely to represent the entire mobile user population, the results show that the brand and desirability of the iPhone transcends western markets and is equally strong in Asia, with China arguably the most difficult, insular market of the region.

That said, according to Apple Insider:

Apple did fall behind Nokia when respondents were asked to share what they believe to be the “leading smartphone brands.” Of those surveyed, 78 percent indicated Nokia is a market leader, while Apple was cited by 72 percent.

The industry news take-away that smartphones are the object of most mobile user’s desire, no big surprise given the cumulative growth in shipments across Asia, is perhaps best demonstrated in China by operator China Unicom’s desire to build its own OS, dubbed the Wo-phone. Imitation really is the sincerest type of flattery in China’s copy-cat full digital landscape.

Of course, technology and smartphones in particular are difficult to predict and rumours suggest that a budget iPhone may be amongst the next range launched alongside the iPhone 5 later this year (although there is a suggestion that the launch may be moved to 2012 due to stock and supply chain issues resulting from the Japanese tsunami/earthquake issues).

Were Apple to launch the lower priced device – thought to be priced around US$200 – it would have major implications on the mobile (dumb and smartphone alike) market in Asia as I wrote when covering the rumour in February, tapping into the Chinese market’s desire for iPhone suggested by the Alphawise/Morgan Stanley survey.

Images via Apple 2.0 blog at Fortune