Apple’s iPhone share in China attained an all-time high in the fourth quarter of 2021, claiming the number one position for the first time in six years. According to Counterpoint Research, Apple had 23% of the market and sales grew 32% year-on-year in the December quarter. The iPhone maker had solid growth despite a 9% decline in China’s overall smartphone sales.
Mengmeng Zhang, an analyst at Counterpoint Research, said Apple’s stellar performance was driven by a mix of its pricing strategy and gain from Huawei’s premium base. “Apple rose to the first place in China right after the iPhone 13 was released in September. Afterwards, it remained in the leading position for most of the fourth quarter. The new iPhone 13 has led the success due to a relatively lower starting price at its release in China, as well as the new camera and 5G features.”
Furthermore, Huawei, which is Apple’s main competitor in the premium market, faced a decline in sales due to ongoing US sanctions. Counterpoint Research says Apple’s success in the premium segment is an encouraging sign. It will continue to motivate Chinese OEMs to strengthen their footprints in the segment.
The market analyst expects the smartphone ASP to continue to rise in China as leading OEMs put more effort into increasing it to counter the drop in sales. Ivan Lam, a senior analyst, highlighted that the overall market in China is declining due to various factors in the supply side and demand side. “The ongoing component shortages are impacting shipments of all OEMs. China’s average smartphone replacement cycle is becoming longer.”
Ivan pointed out that smartphone designs within brands have also become homogeneous, especially in hardware, failing to motivate consumers to upgrade. Furthermore, China has been facing a complex economic environment where exports are driving the growth and domestic spending remains lackluster.