Apple has finally halted the dream run of Xiaomi in China, the largest smartphone market in the world, edging the Chinese phone giant from the fourth slot by shipping nearly 45 million iPhones to the Communist nation, a report by market research firm IDC said.
“Xiaomi was China’s hottest phone brand in 2014 and 2015, but it couldn’t maintain the momentum in 2016,” tech news portal CNET quoted IDC data as saying.
Shipping 41.5 million smartphones, Xiaomi once known as ‘the Apple of China’ was the No. 5 brand in China last year. Apple, which took the fourth slot shipped 44.9 million iPhones to China (vs.58.4 million in 2015), the world’s largest phone market, it said.
“The big winner was Oppo, which shipped 78.4 million phones — more than double the 35.4 million it shipped in 2015. Huawei came in at second, shipping 76 million phones, while Vivo managed to almost double its shipments, going from 35 million in 2015 to 69 million last year,” it said.
“2016 was the first time ever that Apple saw a YoY decline in the Chinese market. Even though the new black coloured iPhones caught the attention of consumers, overall, the new launches did not create as much of a frenzy compared to the past,” the IDC report said.
“Despite the decline, IDC does not believe Chinese vendors have actually eaten away Apple’s market share. Most Apple users are expected to be holding out for the new iPhone that will be launched this year, and that will help the brand to see a growth in 2017.”
“Apple’s 10-year anniversary iPhone will also likely attract some of the high-end Android users in China to convert to an iPhone,” it said.
Chinese market grew by 9 per cent last year.
“Most brands are now using a combination of channels to increase their shipments. Xiaomi, previously focused on online channels, has opened more Mi Home stores to drive offline growth. Apple has also been aggressive in increasing its offline retail presence,” it said.
The top three Chinese brands grabbed a total of 48 per cent of the Chinese market last year.
Jin Di, a research manager with IDC China, said another reason behind the success of Chinese brands was their willingness to share profits with distribution partners.
Apple dropped from third in 2015 to fourth in 2016, as shipments to China plunged 23.2 per cent to 44.9 million units.
Xiaomi was top in 2015, but fell to the bottom of the top-five vendors, with a 36 per cent plunge in sales in China. Total smartphone shipment volume in China rose 8.7 per cent to 467.3 million handsets last year.
The IDC forecast that the volume in 2017 will continue to grow as consumers replace old phones, but that the growth will be slower than 2016. Worldwide, the top five smartphone vendors in terms of shipments last year were Samsung, Apple, Huawei, OPPO and Vivo.