Apple iPhone’s shipments plunging 33% in February in China due to stiff competition

Consumers line up in an Apple store in Shenzhen, South China's Guangdong Province on September 22, 2023, as Apple's latest iPhone 15 series and watches start their first day of in-store pickup. Photo: VCG

Consumers line up in an Apple store in Shenzhen, South China’s Guangdong Province on September 22, 2023, as Apple’s latest iPhone 15 series and watches start their first day of in-store pickup. Photo: VCG

Apple is witnessing a substantial drop in iPhone shipments in China, with a 33-percent reduction in February from the previous year, as the US company faces rising competition from Chinese domestic rivals such as Huawei and Xiaomi.

The tech giant shipped around 2.4 million smartphones in February in China, marking the second consecutive decline of the year, extending the trend of weakening demand for the company’s flagship device in its most crucial overseas market.

Since the release of the latest iPhone in September last year, iPhone sales in the China market have remained stagnant. In January, iPhone shipments totaled around 5.5 million units, declining approximately 39 percent year-on-year, according to data from the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology (CAICT).

It’s still notable that China`s overall smartphone market shrunk by a third in February, CAICT data showed, partly impacted by the later timing of the Chinese New Year this year. 

With a total shipment of only 2.4 million units for foreign smartphone brands last month, Apple accounts for most of those shipments, as the only overseas player with a meaningful market share, according to Bloomberg reports.

Apple’s struggle began with Huawei’s resurgence in the premium 5G smartphone segment back in September last year. Following the release of the Mate 60 series, Huawei has seen a surge in domestic market sales.

Despite facing unjustified bans from the US government, Huawei is still a formidable competitor in the Chinese market. This, along with the slowdown in the latest iPhone shipments, led the company to offer rare discounts on its products in January.

Analysts are optimistic about China’s market growth in the second half of the year, but warn of a possible slowing trend as Chinese smartphone makers aggressively promote smartphones with advanced AI capabilities, according to Bloomberg.

Amid the shipments downturn and the stiff competition in China, Apple is ramping up efforts in the Chinese smartphone market. Apple CEO Tim Cook visited China last week and stressed China’s critical role in its supply chain due to China’s rich talent resources and strong innovation vitality.

In 2023, Apple held a 17.3-percent market share, becoming China’s top smartphone brand for the first time. The company has reportedly sought a partnership with Chinese search engine Baidu to provide generative AI solutions in its devices sold in China. 

Global Times