Chinese Smartphone Sales Decline

by Warren Seah

Chinese smartphone sales took a hit in the first six weeks of 2024, showing a 7% decrease compared to the same period last year. The decline came as customers displayed a lack of interest in Apple’s latest iPhone 15, opting instead for devices from Chinese manufacturer Huawei.

Apple Struggles, Huawei Thrives

Shares in Apple dropped by 3% following the news, marking a stark contrast to the 14% increase seen over the previous year. Apple’s smartphone unit sales plummeted by 24% during the same period, as Chinese consumers chose to hold onto their existing iPhones due to minimal upgrades in the new model.

In contrast, Huawei experienced a significant boost with a 64% year-on-year increase in unit sales. This surge was largely attributed to the strong demand for its high-end Mate 60 smartphone, which hit the market in August 2023.

Market Dynamics and Competition

While Huawei saw growth, other major smartphone manufacturers witnessed a decline in sales volumes. Oppo, in particular, faced a steep drop of 29% in its sales. Price competition from lower-cost rivals like Oppo, Viva, and Xiaomi further exacerbated Apple’s struggles in the market.

This challenging landscape reflects broader economic issues in China, including a crisis in the real estate sector that has affected consumer confidence. Counterpoint Research anticipates that smartphone sales will continue to be lower than last year throughout the first quarter of 2024.

Looking Ahead

“As consumer confidence needs to improve, stabilizing the market will be key,” noted Counterpoint Research analyst Ivan Lam. The evolving dynamics in the Chinese smartphone industry underscore the importance of innovation and consumer-centric strategies for companies looking to stay competitive in this fast-paced market.

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