Apple has fallen out of the top five smartphone pack in the APEJ (Asia Pacific Excluding Japan) region as a result of the momentum of Chinese vendors, a move IDC suggests could see it lose out on a market that will almost double shipments by 2017.
The analyst house reports that Samsung dominated smartphone sales in APEJ in Q2 2013 (28 million units and a 24 per cent market share), as the region saw a huge 75 per cent year-on-year growth – and 10 per cent quarter-on-quarter – in vendor shipments (totalling 119 million units). This was in stark contrast to the 7 per cent quarter-on-quarter decline of feature phones, resulting in smartphones outshipping feature phones for the first time in APEJ, with a 53 per cent share.
The big surprise, however, is the fall from grace of Apple, with Chinese players Lenovo, Coolpad, Huawei and ZTE all outshipping Apple in the quarter.
In a statement IDC also pointed to “a rising segment of homegrown brands, which as a group have been steadily rising in shipments and prominence.” This group of players comprised 38 per cent of second quarter volumes, up from 20 per cent in the same quarter of 2012, and 7 per cent in Q2 2011. Example names of “rising stars” IDC believes are likely to grow their emerging market smartphone base include K-Touch and Xiaomi (China), Lava and Micromax (India), S-CSL (Malaysia), i-Mobile and GNET (Thailand), and Q-Smart (Vietnam).
“In emerging markets like China and India, IDC has seen many local competitors spring up, but only in the last few quarters have we seen them aggressively scale up, competitive on both price and hardware specs like bigger screens,” said Melissa Chau, senior research manager with IDC AP’s client devices team. “We are now hitting a place where there are smartphones for every price point, where the masses will benefit from the slew of players bringing in more options.”
Indeed, IDC noted that this was the first quarter which saw both the sub-$50 segment of smartphones gain some traction in China. Meanwhile the 4 inch-plus screen size segment drove most shipments, but the 5-6 inch segment also saw its first gain in both China and India.
Looking ahead, IDC expects the APEJ smartphone market to grow from 400 million shipments this year to 749 million in 2017.
While Apple faces a challenge to claw back market share in this region, it can at least point to domination in the Japanese market: in the first quarter of 2013, Apple’s iPhone accounted for nearly 40 per cent of all Japanese smartphone sales. And this success is despite the country’s number-one operator NTT Docomo refusing to stock iPhones.