Apple bucked a trend of declining smartphone sales in China with iPhone shipments rising 40 per cent year-on-year to about 11 million in Q3, Canalys revealed.
In terms of annual growth, this is Apple’s best performance in China since Q3 2015 (see chart below, click to enlarge), where its growth slowed considerably since the launch of the iPhone 6S, the research company’s figures show.
The mix of the iPhone 8 series at launch is also higher than the corresponding mix of the iPhone 7 series in 2016. However, despite launching three new devices this year, Apple’s success in China could be short-lived, the research company said.
“Apple’s growth this quarter is only temporary. The high sell-in caters to the pent-up demand of iPhone upgraders in the absence of the iPhone X. Price cuts on earlier models after announcing the iPhone 8 have also helped. However, Apple is unlikely to sustain this growth in Q4,” said Canalys research analyst Mo Jia.
Despite being touted as expensive, excitement for the launch of the iPhone X is building in China: “While the iPhone X launches this week, its pricing structure and supply are inhibiting interest. The iPhone X will enjoy a healthy grey market status, but its popularity is unlikely to help Apple in the short term.” Jia added.
Smartphone shipments in the country fell 5 per cent year-on-year in Q3 to 119 million units.
The China market became even more competitive (see chart below, click to enlarge), with the top three separated by just a few percentage points: Huawei with an 19 per cent share, Oppo 18 per cent and Vivo 17 per cent.
Huawei’s shipments increased 23 per cent year-on-year during the quarter, moving more than 22 million units to take the lead, while Oppo declined slightly (compared with its top performance in Q3 2016) shipping 21 million units. Vivo, with 26 per cent growth, was an impressive performer in the top 3, shipping more than 20 million units. Xiaomi and Apple round out the top five.
As the top five continue to strengthen their position, declining shipments has become a major worry for many vendors in China, Canalys said.