Apple might be 'pricing the iPhone out of China', with Q4 sales down 22 percent

Apple might be 'pricing the iPhone out of China', with Q4 sales down 22 percent
It’s no longer a big secret that the global smartphone industry is in trouble, with a general lack of innovation and extended upgrade cycles routinely cited by analysts as the main reasons for consecutive quarterly sales declines reported over the past year or so.

The situation is no different in China, although at least as far as one company is concerned, excessive retail prices are another key factor playing a crucial role in this troubling trend. In fact, when Apple made the unprecedented move of drastically lowering its revenue forecast for last year’s final calendar quarter, Chinese iPhone shipments were highlighted as one of the tech giant’s two greatest troubles.

In case you were wondering exactly how bad things got in the region for Apple between October and December 2018, Strategy Analytics has the answer... and it’s pretty bad. If the market research firm’s calculations are correct (and they’re usually fairly reliable), only 10.9 million iPhones were shipped to Chinese consumers this past quarter, down from 14 million units in Q4 2017.

That represents a massive 22 percent year-on-year drop, as well as the company’s worst quarterly performance in the country since early 2017. Yes, worse than several quarters during which Apple didn’t release anything new.


If it wasn’t already abundantly clear, the iPhone XS, XS Max, and even iPhone XR seemed grossly overpriced to an audience favoring devices from local brands Huawei, Oppo, and Vivo. While Apple is finally working to fix that, it’s unclear if the company’s figures will be able to rapidly bounce back as the US-China trade war continues.

Of course, smartphone shipments on the whole were down in China both in Q4 and during the entire year, but somehow, Huawei and Vivo managed to defy that trend. Huawei even pulled off a record 28 percent market share in Q4 2018 on the back of an impressive 23 percent year-on-year growth.

The market leader’s yearly numbers also surged a healthy 15 percent, to a grand total of 105.1 million unit shipments, while Apple’s full-year sales didn’t sink as badly as its Q4 figures, reaching 34.2 million units, down from 36.7 million in 2017. Obviously, the trend is the biggest problem, as well as those sky-high iPhone prices, which Strategy Analytics researchers are deeming harder and harder to sustain. 

Apple is already in big trouble in India, and if the company insists on maintaining its notoriously hefty profit margins, iPhones could ultimately be “priced out of China.”

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19 Comments

1. dubaiboy78

Posts: 459; Member since: Sep 19, 2014

Apple is the main company being affected due to greediness!!!! I hope their market share drop more!

4. STRANG3R

Posts: 234; Member since: Sep 24, 2015

They deserve to die for ripping off its blind followers.

5. TheOracle1

Posts: 2340; Member since: May 04, 2015

They're definitely overpriced for what they offer in comparison to Huawei, Oppo/Vivo and Xiaomi. But it seems Samsung are going down the same path with the rumored pricing of the upcoming S10 starting at around $900 for the regular (non-lite) version. Blindly following Apple like a lemming may turn out to hurt Samsung badly.

7. darkkjedii

Posts: 31764; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

If so, then Samsung is gonna feel the same pinch, and rightfully so. Prices need to come down for them as well, but you do get way more in a Galaxy vs an iPhone, and for quite a bit less.

12. worldpeace

Posts: 3135; Member since: Apr 15, 2016

They won't increase the base price. S8 and S9 launched with the same price (~$720 in my place), they don't have any reason to increase the price to $9xx. While the lite version is their answer to Oneplus and Huawei. (They already losing market share, they won't be doing stupid thing like that.)

24. Vancetastic

Posts: 1873; Member since: May 17, 2017

That seems a bit extreme...I’d settle for improved products at more reasonable prices.

17. midan

Posts: 3224; Member since: Oct 09, 2017

So what happened to Xiaomi who lost 5,5 million sales?

38. Atechguy0

Posts: 918; Member since: Aug 03, 2018

Xiaomi lost 2.7 million sales for the entire year of 2018. They lost 5.5 million for that quarter, but clearly they sold more the other quarters. Apple lost 2.5 million sales for the same 2018. Also Oppo lost 5.8 million in sales. But Huawei gained almost 15 million in sales in 2018.

2. ijuanp03

Posts: 687; Member since: Dec 30, 2014

The very high price tag is to be blamed. Add to that fact that OEMs already outdid Apple in terms of innovation.

37. redmd

Posts: 1962; Member since: Oct 26, 2011

Yeah. Those innovative OEM products were also priced sky-high.

60. mootu

Posts: 1541; Member since: Mar 16, 2017

But still far lass than the equivalent iPhones which offered nothing innovative this year.

3. SIGPRO

Posts: 2817; Member since: Oct 03, 2012

Why buy a fruit phone while you can buy another phone way cheaper with better specs/features/performance? You will be a thief of your own wallet, but iFans just love to say how their god is so rich........

9. midan

Posts: 3224; Member since: Oct 09, 2017

Interestingly this article have zero mention about the fact that Xiaomi lost most in China. They lost 5,5 million and actually Apple passed xiaomi in China and were 4th in q4.

20. Vancetastic

Posts: 1873; Member since: May 17, 2017

Maybe that’s because the article is about.........Apple.

22. TheOracle1

Posts: 2340; Member since: May 04, 2015

Sounds like "whataboutism" to me. Did Kellyanne Conway train you? My take is Xiaomi's emphasis on the Indian market where they're spanking everyone. Plus the other three Chinese manufacturers had some amazing products last year which ate into Xiaomi sales. It still doesn't help Apple.

25. Vancetastic

Posts: 1873; Member since: May 17, 2017

Some people can’t deal with anything other than happy news about their favorite company, I guess. That’s what drives me nuts about these comment sections.

26. rouyal

Posts: 1598; Member since: Jan 05, 2018

The fandroids dont want the whole story. They just want to see sensationalist tabloid reports like this against Apple. And they fall into the honey pot every time.

29. TheOracle1

Posts: 2340; Member since: May 04, 2015

Rouyal is back with another pithy comment that has no bearing on the article as usual.

36. dimas

Posts: 3446; Member since: Jul 22, 2014

@rouyal Seriously? Please don't breed.

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