Survey: Apple poised for gains in China

March 29, 2011, 6:22 PM UTC

Nokia may be most vulnerable as Chinese cellphone owners upgrade to smartphones

Source: Alphawise/Morgan Stanley

There’s good news for Apple (AAPL) in the results of an Alphawise/Morgan Stanley survey released Tuesday.

The survey, conducted among a sample of 2,029 Chinese mobile phone users in February and March, found demand for smartphones to be surprisingly strong. 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 (NOK), currently the vendor in China with the largest 3G market share, is also the one with the most to lose.

Below, a chart of the features respondents said they cared most about, which according to Morgan Stanley’s analysis will shift the balance in Apple’s favor as Internet use increases.

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[Follow Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Twitter @philiped]