Google’s Android OS is dominating the Chinese smartphone market and is now installed on more than half of all devices in the country, according to research from Kantar Worldpanel ComTech.

Across all smartphones in China, the Android mobile operating system hit a 51.4 percent market share in the first quarter of 2013, marking a 2.8 percent increase compared to the previous quarter.

As for the Android-carrying manufacturer that’s accompanying this growth, Samsung remains an ever-influential force in China. Q1 saw it reach installation base of 15.2 percent, marking a 1.5 percent increase. According to Kantar, the launch of the Galaxy S4 will likely see this trend continue. The Korean giant is now the fastest-growing smartphone brand in China.

More generally, Kantar’s report reinforces evidence that Chinese device owners are switching from featurephones to smartphones at a rapid pace. Smartphone adoption in the country grew 1.2 percent in Q1 2013, the majority of which was driven from first-time smartphone owners. The reason for this? Smartphones are only getting cheaper.

”Featurephones are losing their price advantage as Android smartphones are rapidly becoming more affordable and delivering better value. We expect to see accelerated Smartphone adoption in China in the coming months,” says Craig Yu, Consumer Insight Director at Kantar Worldpanel ComTech.

Symbian and iOS trail behind Android with 23 percent and 19.9 percent market share, respectively. The former saw a 2 percent decrease in market share in Q1, a development consistent with Nokia’s sinking popularity in China.

As Chinese smartphone owners continue to increase in numbers, we can expect to see some interesting developments emerge in the coming years. Although Samsung is growing strong, Chinese domestic manufacturers like Huawei, Xiaomi, ZTE, Lenovo, and Coolpad are all releasing increasingly sophisticated devices that may ultimately rival those of bigger competitors. Meanwhile, Apple has stated that it has its sights firmly set on the Chinese market, and its rumored release of cheaper iPhones might help it gain more customers.

On the OS front, Mozilla is unrolling its Firefox OS with China at the forefront of its distribution strategy, which could also serve as a force for disruption.

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