The character of the Chinese economic model is changing. Since the beginning of China’s economic reforms, growth has been driven by investment and exports. Growth in “New China” will be driven by domestic consumption, including service industries like retail, domestic transportation, travel, leisure and health care. Or at least that is the plan.

One area were personal consumption has grown particularly fast is within smartphones. A recent study by mobile research firm Flurry Analytics showed that China has overtaken the United States as the country where most Android and iOS (the two main smartphone platforms) devices were activated.

To take the pulse on Chinese consumption we decided to calculate the iOS penetration (Apple’s iPhone and iPad, not including iPod touch) rate in all Chinese provinces and municipalities, using data from Chinese mobile research firm Umeng and our own analysis of the number of iOS devices in China. Our estimate puts the total number of iPhones and iPads in China at end of 2011 at 21 million active devices, distributed as follows:

Apple’s success is China has been hard to miss (sales in Q4 2011 reached 4.5bn USD), but the high penetration rates in Beijing and Shanghai still surprised us.

How long will it take before your average Chinese Zhou can expect to own a villa in the suburbs and two cars? A long time no doubt. But it seems the Chinese dream already includes things like iPhones and iPads.