iPhone search traffic down by almost 50% in China; February sales were "abysmal"

iPhone search traffic down by almost 50% in China; February sales were
The 2018 iPhone lineup

Last quarter, Apple saw its revenue numbers plummet as a result of weak iPhone demand in China. And according to Longbow Research (via Bloomberg), the Silicon Valley-based company is still facing some pretty big challenges in the market.

Search traffic isn’t the most accurate way of gauging demand but drastic drops are usually a sign of less interest. In the case of Apple’s iPhone, Longbow reports that search volumes in China are down drastically year-over-year. In fact, in January searches in the country related to the smartphones were half what they were just twelve months prior. Similarly, in February traffic through the Baidu search engine was down 47%.

To make matters worse for Apple, the huge decreases in search traffic come after multiple price cuts by Chinese retailers. Apparently, these haven’t yet helped demand and are unlikely to do so anytime soon.

Certain analysts are more optimistic about the iPhone’s outlook in China but Longbow claims Chinese sales throughout February were “abysmal” and continued to decelerate. To put this into perspective, out of a reported 42 suppliers, it’s claimed that 37 experienced “worse than seasonal sales” in February.

As things stand, Apple is yet to comment on its performance in China throughout this quarter. However, come April 30 the Cupertino giant should provide an update on the whole situation – the company’s quarterly results are expected that day.

If the company has shown no sign of improvement throughout this quarter, a boost in sales may not arrive until the 2019 iPhone series. After all, the iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR are all almost six months old and consumers are now turning to newer devices such as the Galaxy S10, which has apparently been performing quite well in China.

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25 Comments

1. Phonehex

Posts: 754; Member since: Feb 16, 2016

When the phones themselves are dull , why wont the sales be? iPhone X and Xs are not cutting edge for their asking price and it reflects worldwide except in the USA where most people buy it on a monthly plan. ROW buys it paying the whole price upfront and there is not much in these devices which compels people to shell out that much cash for a lesser device like the Xs/Xs max. Ps . Now my XS MAX has been in my shelf for the last one week. I have switched to S10+ and S9+ . So no anti apple bias here. It's just plain boring.

2. KingSam

Posts: 1402; Member since: Mar 13, 2016

I shop on value and usually buy last years flagship. I sold my 7 plus for an LG v35 after a good run with Apple. It’s boring and expensive. I still have hope for iOS 13. My iPad isn’t going anywhere though.

15. sgodsell

Posts: 7034; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

It's not just about boring or dull. It's price. As well as convenience. TouchID was very convenient, but Apple replaced it with FaceID, and completely dropped TouchID. Where as the competition they put more than one option. Apple's devices should not cost that much. The iPhone XR is a joke for its asking price. You know Apple lost its way with Tim Apple. Steve Jobs use to say function and form come first. What happened to that? If Apple decides to put back a finger print scanner (rumors), then you know how wrong, or how bad Apple has become. Under Tim, profits come before their customers or any conveniences.

24. Finalflash

Posts: 4063; Member since: Jul 23, 2013

The iPhone is Apple's only product now so they have to milk those customers as much as possible. Their laptops are terrible now. Their desktops were never really good anyway. The tablets sell to a handful only and are decreasing in sales. Their services (their holy grail) are heavily dependent on the iPhone. Tim has started a battle he can't win, which is ever increasing profits. Instead of increasing customer count through value and winning profits that way, he has decided to go the uninspired route of every bean counter and that is by increasing prices while decreasing costs. That will end abruptly as Apple has finally ran out of small business partners to kill after stealing their tech and has to go for big fish like QC. Also, they have now reached a price point no one wants to pay even on contract. This isn't a good year for any company, it might be catastrophic for Apple.

25. midan

Posts: 2597; Member since: Oct 09, 2017

"The tablets sell to a handful only and are decreasing in sales." You mean Android tablets? IPad sales are up and selling very well.

16. CreeDiddy

Posts: 2135; Member since: Nov 04, 2011

Complete opposite for iPad Pro 12.9 (2018) boring for me. A stretched iPhone XS Max. Took it back...

10. MrHate

Posts: 317; Member since: Feb 09, 2015

You may not be biased but what you listed was your own opinion. Some people like the simplicity. And oh boy have you not been following the news and don't know much about China if you think that they don't buy it because they don't like it. There has been a lot of political stuff going on between the US and China that has led to this and not to forget that China likes control so it is in their best interest when their own Chinese brands dominate their market.

3. drunkenjay

Posts: 1651; Member since: Feb 11, 2013

i wonder if iphones will die out in china. its already screwed by trump but it will just get worse.

5. baldilocks

Posts: 1489; Member since: Dec 14, 2008

By Trump? Are you smokin the liberal BS?

8. TechNeck

Posts: 647; Member since: Aug 29, 2014

You haven't been paying attention to the news, haven't you? The tariffs Trump imposes on China causes the price of the phone to increase drastically so Apple could get some profit. The tariff war Trump started on China is one of the factors contributing to Apple's dwindling growth in China.

9. drunkenjay

Posts: 1651; Member since: Feb 11, 2013

trump starting a tradewar caused this. im not going to every political detail but apple got it bad for them. china is extremely nationalistic especially since its a communist country. they are soft banning the use of apple products from companies and providing discounts to use their chinese products. of course it will even get worse due to canada america detaining the daughter of huaweis ceo.

13. Taphius

Posts: 98; Member since: Aug 20, 2018

800 billion in the hole is not starting anything. Long past due to start evening it out

18. mootu

Posts: 1449; Member since: Mar 16, 2017

"800 billion in the hole is not starting anything. Long past due to start evening it out" How is that the fault of the Chinese? US importers are importing all these goods to satisfy consumer demand, the Chinese just don't send a load of goods and hope people buy it. It's the US consumer that drives the defecit not the other way round.

21. Leo_MC

Posts: 6935; Member since: Dec 02, 2011

Every phone that is not Chinese will die in China.

4. Krazyass69

Posts: 46; Member since: Feb 09, 2019

IOS is boring and absolutely needs constant wifi/data to be really functional meaning; if you want to enjoy it for a bit because without wifi IOS is plain boring nothing you can do but just stare at it.

6. baldilocks

Posts: 1489; Member since: Dec 14, 2008

That doesn't even make any sense at all.

7. darkkjedii

Posts: 30903; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

What mobile OS doesn't require wifi/data to get the most out of it? iOS is boring, but it's also very solid and it's popular. It only lacks 5-6 things that would make it a killer OS. Apple is just fulla BS, and won't ad them, keeping only for the iPad.

11. slashas

Posts: 125; Member since: Jul 17, 2017

How Operating system can be boring? I don’t get you :) games and media should entertain you, not the OS itself. So windows os boring as well for you? :D

17. CreeDiddy

Posts: 2135; Member since: Nov 04, 2011

I agree...it’s an angle to play against Apple.

20. Cicero

Posts: 1108; Member since: Jan 22, 2014

The same shouts were on Samsung skins on android. The question still remains: how long do you spend on settings? But some things will make the difference, like widgets, file explorer like on pc, gestures, multitasking, split screen, SD cards extensions, and so on.

22. Leo_MC

Posts: 6935; Member since: Dec 02, 2011

I'm starting to think that some people spend all day, changing the icons and colors of their phones...

12. dmomintz

Posts: 68; Member since: Jan 21, 2016

Why is no one bringing up the obvious correlation between this and the heavy downturn in the Chinese economy (Even before the trade war)? People just don't have the expendable income like they did when the GDP was consistently growing at 7% or higher, and luxury items like iPhones are usually one of the fist things to be slashed in a individual's budget. People will hold onto their phones longer and be more likely to buy used luxury items when things get tighter like this.

19. mootu

Posts: 1449; Member since: Mar 16, 2017

What heavy downturn would that be? Chinese growth in January was 6.4% opposed to 6.7% in January 2018 hardly a huge downturn. With US growth in Feb at 2.6% compared to 3.4% the previous Feb who's seeing the biggest downturn? Chinese consumers are not hurting in their wallets, they are rebeling against a country that they see as trying to hurt them. Chinese people are far more patriotic than people seem to realise.

14. Donbenie

Posts: 258; Member since: Aug 04, 2013

Blame Trump,it's all his fault..

23. Leo_MC

Posts: 6935; Member since: Dec 02, 2011

China is a closed market; deal with that.

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