Huawei skyrocketed and Apple's sales dropped massively in China last quarter
Huawei saved the Chinese smartphone market
Between January and March 2019, smartphone manufacturers managed to ship a total of 88 million devices in China. This number is down 3% year-on-year from the 90.7 million units that were shipped 12 months prior, but the relatively small decline suggests the worst could be over for the market. Since the second quarter of 2017, the Chinese smartphone market has continued to experience negative growth. More recently, in the first and fourth quarters of 2018 shipments declined a considerable 21% and 14% respectively.
Regarding the performance of individual smartphone manufacturers, Huawei was the only major brand to experience growth during the period. In fact, if Huawei’s growth is taken out of the equation, the Chinese smartphone market as a whole would have declined a whopping 12.5%.
Throughout the first quarter of 2019, the data gathered by Canalys suggests Huawei sold a whopping 29.9 million smartphones. This figure is up an incredible 41% from the 21.2 million devices it shipped a year earlier and helped push the company’s market share up to a record-high 34%, an increase of almost 10% in just one year.
In terms of what led to this impressive performance, Canalys points out that Huawei made big investments into new physical locations, revamping old ones, and expanding its range of IoT devices and accessories to generate further interest.
Apple experienced its worst sales decline in over 2 years
Sitting on the opposite end of the spectrum is Apple. The Cupertino giant, which is the fifth largest brand in China, shipped just 6.5 million iPhones during the three-month period and held a market share of 7.4%. Twelve months earlier, the company accounted for 10.2% of the Chinese smartphone market and managed to ship 9.3 million iPhones.
During Apple’s quarterly earnings call, CEO Tim Cook revealed that customers in the region have reacted positively to Apple’s recent price cuts. Apparently, iPhone sales finally began to gain momentum during the final weeks of the March quarter, something that is now expected to continue throughout the second quarter of the year. It does, however, seem unlike that Apple will post any kind of year-on-year growth in the region anytime soon.
Other major brands didn't perform too well either
Filling in the gaps between Apple and Huawei were Xiaomi, Vivo, and Oppo in fourth, third, and second place respectively.
Xiaomi spent most of the first quarter diversifying its portfolio of devices and turning Redmi into an independent brand that’ll compete with Huawei’s Honor in the low-end segment. For the most part, these efforts were successful – the company recorded growth against the previous quarter – but the changes weren’t enough to avoid a year-on-year decline of 13%.
Vivo and Oppo, on the other hand, saw small declines of 4% and 2% respectively. Both companies invested heavily into revamping their image, with Vivo expanding its smartphone lineup significantly and Oppo focusing on creating a slightly more premium image which will be reinforced by the recently-announced Reno lineup.