A few days after publishing its report of the Indian smartphone market in Q3 2017, Canalys has published a report of the Chinese smartphone market in that same quarter. The Chinese smartphone market is the largest smartphone market in the world, with India having now overtaken the US to become the second largest market. However, according to the firm, smartphone shipments declined in China this quarter by 5% to 119 million units.
Huawei remains the top smartphone manufacturer in China, but the gap between the first, second and third-placed manufacturers is narrow, as Huawei, Oppo and Vivo took 19%, 18% and 17% market share respectively.
Compared to Q3 2016, Huawei grew shipments by 23% to to ship 22 million units. Oppo’s smartphone shipments, on the other hand, declined to 21 million units. Vivo’s growth rate was the best of the top five with 26% growth, making it the most impressive performer in the top 3 after shipping over 20 million units. Xiaomi and Apple placed fourth and fifth, respectively.
According to Canalys, Apple’s story of declining smartphone shipments in China is over for now, as shipments grew 40% from 8 million in Q3 2016 to 11 million in Q3 2017. This is Apple’s best performance in China in the last eight quarters, where the growth of the company has slowed considerably since the launch of the iPhone 6S in September 2015. The report stated that the mix of the iPhone 8 series at launch is also higher than the corresponding mix of the iPhone 7 series at launch last year. However, Canalys warned that “despite launching three new devices this year, Apple’s success in China could be short-lived.”
According to Canalys Research Analyst Mo Jia, Apple’s growth this quarter is temporary. He stated that the high sell-in caters to the pent-up demand of iPhone upgraders in the absence of the iPhone X. Also, price cuts on previous generation iPhones after announcing the iPhone 8 have also helped. He predicted that it is unlikely for Apple to sustain this growth in Q4 2017.
The iPhone X has been regarded as an expensive device globally, but excitement for the launch of the iPhone X is building in China. Mr. Jia stated that even though the device would launch this week, the pricing structure and supply issues will restrain growth. He added that the iPhone X would enjoy a healthy grey market status, but Apple’s popularity is unlikely to be helped by it in the short term.
Declining shipments have become a major concern for many vendors in China, according to the market analysis firm. Canalys Research Analyst Hattie He predicted that the competition among the top vendors in China would remain tight with no clear winner in Q4. She also said that Q4 will be a highly competitive quarter because of the 11.11 online shopping festival.
Canalys also expects Xiaomi break the dominance of Huawei, Oppo and Vivo in Q4, on the account of its aggressive offline expansion in the country. This will result in even tighter competition for the top spot of the Chinese smartphone market.
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