Apple's share in China's smartphone market leapt in October, making the iPhone maker the third-largest smartphone player in the mainland, according to Counterpoint Research - a technology market research firm.

The company's market share rose to 12 percent in October, quadrupling from 3 percent in the previous month, helped by strong sales of the iPhone 5S, data based on sales by major mass retailers and distributors, showed.

Rising from sixth place in September, the iPhone maker now ranks right below Samsung and Lenovo, which hold the number one and two spots, respectively. Meanwhile, Coolpad, Huawei and ZTE, ranked in fourth, fifth and sixth position, respectively, with a market share of under 10 percent.

"The iPhone 5s didn't attract long queues outside Apple retails stores [in China] as the iPhone 4s did [a] couple of years ago but it definitely was more successful compared to [the] iPhone 5," Tom Kang, director at Counterpoint wrote in a note.

The iPhone 5s was the best-selling mobile phone globally in October, as Apple continued its expansive roll-out of the model. In fact, the iPhone 5s has helped Apple surpass Samsung in the U.S. smartphone market and maintain its leadership position in Japan, according to Counterpoint. 

"With China Mobile deal on the horizon, Apple iPhone 5s at all three carriers will for sure ignite a 'price war' boosting the overall iPhone 5s sales in China," Kang said.

According to Kang, this may propel Apple's position to the number one smartphone player in the mainland by December or January.

While no official deal has been announced between Apple and China Mobile, the world's largest wireless carrier began taking pre-orders for the iPhone on Thursday.

The Chinese telco is one of the world's last major carriers that does not offer the iPhone, and its distribution of the device is seen is critical for growing Apple's foothold in the mainland.

China has proved to be a challenging market for Apple given fierce competition from rival Samsung and domestic, low-cost smartphone manufactures.

Greater China is the company's third-largest market after Europe and the Americas, accounting for around 15 percent of revenue in the July to September quarter.


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