Customers buy iPhone13 phones in Apple’s flagship store with smart products in Shanghai, China, on October 12, 2021.
Xing Yun | Costfoto | Barcroft Media | Getty Images
Apple’s smartphone market share in China hit a record high in the fourth quarter of 2021, with the iPhone maker regaining number one in the country for the first time in six years.
The Cupertino giant had 23% of the market, and sales grew 32% year-on-year in the December quarter, according to market analysts Counterpoint Research.
Apple experienced solid growth despite a 9% drop in China’s overall smartphone sales, thanks to their iPhone 13 line-up, which launched in September.
“The new iPhone 13 has led to the success due to a relatively lower starting price at the release in China, as well as the new camera and 5G features,” Counterpoint Research analyst Mengmeng Zhang said in a press release.
5G refers to the next generation of super-fast internet, which is rolling out all over the world and especially fast in China.
“Furthermore, Huawei, Apple’s biggest competitor in the premium market, was facing declining sales due to the ongoing US sanctions.”
Chinese giant Huawei – once the number one smartphone player in China and the world – has been crippled by US sanctions, which cut off the company from key components and software for its devices.
Huawei had only 7% market share in China in the fourth quarter, and sales fell 73% year-on-year, Counterpoint Research said.
The Chinese brand Vivo was in second place with 19% market share, followed by Oppo with 17%.
Honor, the smartphone brand formerly owned by Huawei but spun off into a separate company, was the fourth largest player with a 15% market share, followed by Xiaomi with 13%.
All of these brands are Chinese domestic smartphone manufacturers that have also grown in the global markets.
China’s market is falling
Counterpoint Research said sales in China’s smartphone market fell 2% year-on-year for several reasons.
The global shortage of semiconductors and components has affected suppliers’ ability to send telephones, according to senior analyst Ivan Lam at Counterpoint Research.
Meanwhile, “China’s average smartphone replacement cycle is getting longer,” Lam said.
The analyst added that China “is experiencing a complex economic environment in which exports are driving growth and domestic consumption remains weak.” Sluggish consumption has been a hindrance to the Chinese economy.