Skip to main content

Sales of Apple’s iPhone declined in China despite overall worldwide growth

apple earnings q4 2017 logo
Apple may have just come off a record quarter — the Cupertino, California-based company managed to sell a record 78 million iPhones in the first fiscal quarter of 2017 — but it’s struggling to maintain its market position in China. According to market researchers at IDC, annual Apple iPhone shipments fell for the first time in the country, dropping 23 percent in 2016 compared to the same period a year ago.

Strong local competition is to blame. Chinese smartphone makers Oppo, Huawei, and Vivo nabbed the top three slots in the country, and Vivo accounted for 48 percent of shipments in the country during 2016.

Conversely, Apple iPhone sales dipped 23.2 percent, shrinking Apple’s overall market share in the country to 9.6 percent — the lowest in two years. And analysts at Gartner report that the iPhone saw a year-on-year dip in market share from 13 percent to 11.5 percent in the third quarter, its lowest since 2009.

“Even though the new black-colored iPhones caught the attention of consumers, overall, the new launches did not create as much of a frenzy compared to the past,” IDC said in its report.

It’s not for lack of a market. Oppo alone boosted annual number shipments from more than 35 million units in 2015 to 78.4 million last year, IDC said, and Vivo doubled sales. In the third quarter, sales from China made up 81 percent of Oppo’s profits. And Chinese smartphone makers dominated China’s list of vendors — Huawei ended the quarter with 9.3 percent market share, Oppo with 7 percent, and Vivo with 5.8 percent.

IDC credits “vast store networks,” “improve customer service,” and a “push to open their own retail stores” as key contributors to local brands’ growth. “We expect [Chinese] vendors to increase their shipments in the international market, with India as a key target for these top Chinese vendors,” IDC said.

It’s not all doom and gloom for Apple, though. According to IDC, the upcoming iPhone 7S/8 should mark an uptick in sales as Chinese consumers flock to what’s expected to be one of the biggest product launches in the company’s history.

“Apple’s 10-year anniversary iPhone will also likely attract some of the high-end Android users in China to convert to an iPhone, IDC said.

Apple’s not the only smartphone vendor that struggled to make inroads this year. Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7 debacle saw the Seoul, South Korea-based company’s market share fall from 23.6 percent to 19.2 percent, the biggest slide in the company’s history.

Editors' Recommendations

Kyle Wiggers
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Kyle Wiggers is a writer, Web designer, and podcaster with an acute interest in all things tech. When not reviewing gadgets…
iPhone Flip: what we know about Apple’s first foldable phone
Folding iPhone concept from iOS Beta News

In the past few years, Samsung has become one of the leading manufacturers of foldable devices, including the Galaxy Z Flip 4 and Galaxy Z Fold 4. Though it's not the only brand making foldable devices, it's the most mainstream and available option, especially in the U.S. But that leads to the question of whether Apple will follow suit with a foldable iPhone — or even an iPad.

There have been longstanding rumors that Apple could be working on such a device, including a foldable iPhone, which we'll call "iPhone Flip" for now. Apple's a secretive company, so there may very well be at least some research and development (R&D) on such a device. But, of course, this continues to just be all speculation for now. From the latest news, rumors, and reports, here's everything we know so far about Apple's folding iPhone!
iPhone Flip: design and display

Read more
Apple hints at cunning plan to make you spend even more on an iPhone
The iPhone 14 Pro Max standing against a tree outside.

Apple hinted at plans to debut a more expensive line of phones soon, according to a report from Bloomberg's Mark Gurman, just in case the current range isn't quite as expensive as you'd like. If accurate, a new type of iPhone will start rolling out this year as the company reorganizes its smartphone lineup after the commercial failures of the iPhone 12 mini and 13 mini models, as well as that of the iPhone 14 Plus.

The report comes from a statement by Apple CEO Tim Cook during an investment earnings call last week. Cook noted that Apple's customers were more likely to pay more for higher-specification iPhones than ever before, saying: “I think people are willing to really stretch to get the best they can afford in that category." Gurman connects this to earlier reports of a so-called iPhone 15 Ultra that's rumored to supplement the iPhone lineup in the future.

Read more
My iPhone 14 Pro camera is ruined, and it’s all Apple’s fault
The iPhone 14 Pro's camera module.

Every year, Apple touts the iPhone as having an incredible camera system — and, yes, the hardware is certainly impressive. The iPhone 14 Pro has the latest advancements that Apple offers in terms of camera upgrades, including a huge jump to a 48MP main camera with pixel-binning technology (four su-pixels to make up one larger pixel), a telephoto lens with 3x optical zoom, faster night mode, and more. Again, on the hardware front, the iPhone 14 Pro camera looks impressive. And it is!

But what good is great camera hardware when the software continues to ruin the images you take? Ever since the iPhone 13 lineup, it seems that any images taken from an iPhone, unless it’s shot in ProRaw format, just look bad compared to those taken on older iPhones and the competing best Android phones. That’s because Apple has turned the dial way up on computational photography and post-processing each time you capture a photo. It’s ruining my images, and Apple needs to take a chill pill and take it down a notch.
These 'smart' features aren’t as smart as they claim

Read more