China passes U.S. as top smartphone market

China passed the U.S. to become the world’s largest smartphone market by volume in the third quarter as the devices became cheaper and more widely available, research firm Strategy Analytics said.

Shipments in China reached a record 23.9 million units, up 58 percent from the second quarter, the Boston-based research firm said in a statement. That compares with a 7 percent drop to 23.3 million units in the U.S.

“China is now at the forefront of the worldwide mobile- computing boom,” Neil Mawston, an analyst at Strategy Analytics, said in the statement. “China has become a large and growing smartphone market that no hardware vendor, component maker or content developer can afford to ignore.”

The Chinese market is growing as wireless carriers offer more smartphones, including cheaper devices running Google Inc.’s Android software and subsidized versions of Apple Inc.’s iPhone, the research firm said.

Nokia Oyj, which is trying to regain market share in the U.S., leads in China with 28 percent of smartphone shipments last quarter. Samsung Electronics Co., which makes Android phones, was second with 18 percent.

In the U.S., sales slowed as people waited for an update of the iPhone, Linda Sui, an analyst at Strategy Analytics, said in an interview. The country still leads in smartphone revenue, Sui said.