Annual Apple iPhone sales fall for the first time in China, local brands dominate

Apple’s iPhone sales fell for the first time in China on an annual basis. 2016 sales for Apple totalled 44.9 million units with under 10% marketshare, representing a 23% drop in shipments compared to 2015. This decline highlights how China continues to be dominated by local brand smartphone manufacturers like Oppo, Huawei and Vivo.

These companies (many of which are unknown internationally) represent half of smartphone sales in China with Oppo shipments growing more than 100% in the last year. This is according to numbers by IDC, via Bloomberg.

Local brands offer much of the iPhone feature set at lower prices, undercutting Apple’s market position significantly. Apple’s decline in China comes at a time when the company is looking at developing markets for iPhone sales growth.

Investors are looking forward to the new iPhone 8 cycle later this year for a return to growth in China with the (expected) major redesign likely to drive sales. The iPhone 7 did not seem to excite Chinese customers. IDC says Apple sold 15 million iPhones in Q4, a year-over-year fall of about 13%.

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