iPhone sales drop in China

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Local smartphone makers outperformed Apple in the final quarter of last year, data has shown

Apple’s smartphone sales in China dropped by 2.1% year-on-year in the fourth quarter of last year owing to increased competition from local brands, led by Huawei, figures from research firm International Data Corporation (IDC) released this week showed.  

The decrease highlights the challenges Apple faces in its third-largest market, where some Chinese companies and government entities bar the use of its devices in retaliation for restrictions the US placed on Chinese apps for what it described as security reasons.  

Although Huawei’s smartphone sales were hit hard by US sanctions, the tech giant staged a comeback last year, with a 36.2% surge in the final quarter of 2023, the IDC figures showed.   

Huawei became the fourth-largest smartphone seller in China during that period, with a 13.9% market share, up from 10.3% in the same quarter the previous year.  

However, for the full year, Apple outperformed Vivo to become the top smartphone vendor in China, capturing a 17.3% market share.   

Nonetheless, analysts anticipate increased pressure on Apple’s sales in 2024. According to IDC, the US tech giant’s presence in China has been dented by rival products and limited product upgrades by Apple, which has reduced the overall attractiveness of iPhones.  

Earlier this month, analysts from Jefferies Financial Group predicted that iPhone sales in China could reach a double-digit drop this year, whereas Huawei is anticipated to strengthen its market presence with sales rising significantly to around 64 million units in 2024. This would mark a notable rise from the fewer than 35 million units estimated to have been sold in 2023.

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