Apple First Reclaim Smartphone Crown Since 2015 Despite Overall China Market Decline

Apple's stellar performance resulted from iPhone 13's pricing strategy and gain from Huawei's premium base, Counterpoint analyst explained.

BEIJING, January  26 (TMTPOST)— For the first time in the past six years, Apple recaptured the top place in China’s smartphone market, according to the technology market research firm Counterpoint Research.

Source: Counterpoint Research

In the fourth quarter of 2021, Apple overtook vivo to become the No.1 OEM for the first time since the same quarter of 2015, when the iPhone 6 supercycle was at its peak, and its market share increased to 23%, the highest ever share with the year-over-year (YoY) growth of 32%, Counterpoit’s quarterly report released on Wednesday showed. Vivo captured 23% market that quarter, a moderate rise from 18% share a year ago, followed by OPPO with the same 6% YoY decrease in growth.

iPhone 13 lineup is absolutely a major force behind Apple’s achievement. “Apple’s stellar performance was driven by a mix of its pricing strategy and gain from Huawei’s premium base. Apple rose to first place in China right after the iPhone 13 was released in September. Afterwards, it remained in the leading position for most of the fourth quarter,” commented Counterpoint research analyst Mengmeng Zhang. In Zhang’s view, iPhone 13’s success resulted from a relatively lower starting price at its release in China, as well as the new camera and 5G features. Furthermore, Huawei, Apple’s main competitor in the premium market, faced declining sales due to the ongoing US sanctions.  

However, the overall smartphone market in China saw a continued sales falling, and vivo took the firt spot in the whole year with market share of 22%, surpassing OPPO and Apple. The report said the country’s smartphone sales dropped 9% YoY in the fourth quarter, suggesting YoY decline for three quarters in a row.  The full-year smartphone sales also continued the downward trend for the fourth consecutive year, declining 2% YoY in 2021.

The sales decline in China was due to various factors, Counterpoint senior analyst Ivan Lam explained. From the supply side, all the OEMs were impacted by component shortage, while from the demand side, the country itself has experienced a longer smartphone replacement cycle under a complex macroeconomic environment, where the economy became more dependent on exports to drive the growth as the domestic spending remained lackluster, Lam said.

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