Cupertino-based giant Apple has surpassed all local smartphone rivals in China in the fourth quarter (Q4) 2021 to become the top brand in China after six years when the iPhone 6 super-cycle was at its peak, a new report showed on Wednesday. The festive quarter (Q4) also brought Apple its highest ever market share in China at 23 per cent, according to Counterpoint Research’s Monthly Market Pulse Service. “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 (week 39) in September,” said research analyst Mengmeng Zang.
Afterwards, it remained in the leading position for most of the fourth quarter. “The new iPhone 13 has led to Apple’s success due to 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,” Zang informed. However, China’s smartphone sales in Q4 2021 declined 2 percent (on-quarter) and 9 percent (on-year), respectively.
The country’s full-year smartphone sales also continued the downward trend for the fourth consecutive year, declining 2 per cent YoY in 2021. The market in China continues to decline due to various factors in both the supply side and the demand side.
“The ongoing component shortages are impacting shipments of all OEMs. Secondly, China’s average smartphone replacement cycle is becoming longer. Smartphone designs within brands have also become more homogeneous, especially in hardware, failing to motivate consumers to upgrade,” explained senior analyst Ivan Lam. China has also been experiencing a complex economic environment where exports are driving the growth and domestic spending remains lacklustre.
Facing more severe component shortages, slower penetration in offline channels as well as competition from Honor, Xiaomi ranked fifth during the quarter.