Apple’s declining streak in China comes to an end


Grows by 40% after six consecutive quarters of decline in China

Chinese smartphone shipments registered another quarter of decline as the market contracted 5% in the third quarter of 2017, to 119 million units, according to Canalys. The race to the top remains tight as Huawei, Oppo and Vivo took 19%, 18% and 17% market share respectively.

Huawei grew shipments by 23%, shipping over 22 million units to take the lead, while Oppo declined slightly (compared to the stellar performance a year ago) shipping 21 million units, said the research firm. Vivo, with a 26% growth was the most impressive performer in the top three, shipping over 20 million units. Xiaomi and Apple round up the top five this quarter.

However, Apple’s declining streak in China has come to an end, as shipments grew 40% from eight million in the thirds quarter of 2016, to about 11 million this quarter. This makes it Apple’s best performance in China in the last eight quarters, where its growth has slowed considerably since the launch of the iPhone 6S.

The mix of the iPhone 8 series at launch is also higher than the corresponding mix of the iPhone 7 series at launch last year. However, despite launching three new devices this year, Apple’s success in China could be short-lived.

“Apple’s growth this quarter is only temporary. The high sell-in caters to the pent-up demand of iPhone upgraders in the absence of the iPhone X. Price cuts on earlier models after announcing the iPhone 8 have also helped. However, Apple is unlikely to sustain this growth in Q4,” said Canalys research analyst Mo Jia.

Despite being touted as widely expensive, excitement for the launch of the iPhone X is building in China. “While the iPhone X launches this week, its pricing structure and supply are inhibiting. The iPhone X will enjoy a healthy grey market status, but its popularity is unlikely to help Apple in the short term,” added Jia.

As the top five continue to strengthen their position, declining shipments has become a major cause of worry for many vendors in China. “Moving into the last quarter of the year, the competition among the top vendors in China will remain tight with no clear winner,” said Canalys research analyst, Hattie He.

He concluded: “Q4 will be a highly competitive quarter off the bat, with the 11.11 online shopping festival taking centre stage. On the back of its aggressive offline expansion, Xiaomi is poised to break the dominance of Huawei, Oppo and Vivo next quarter, making it an even tighter battle to the top.”



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