Pre-orders for Apple's new iPhone 13
series surpassed the two million mark today in China. The orders were placed through the official Apple store at JD.com and exceeded the 1.5 million pre-orders placed last year via JD.com for the iPhone 12
line. The South China Morning Post
cited the lack of competing high-end handsets from Huawei for the 33% increase in iPhone pre-orders.
Apple iPhone 13 pre-orders at JD.com soar 33% to over 2 million from last year's 1.5 million
Huawei has been hampered by U.S. rules that prevent it from obtaining cutting-edge
5G chips and as hard as it has tried, the company's latest models are not as competitive with the iPhone as they have been in the past. Counterpoint Research senior analyst Ethan Qi says, "There isn’t a smartphone (in the market) which can be a threat to the iPhone 13 above the 5,000 yuan (US$776) price range. There isn’t a product that is as strong as the old Huawei Mate series." The Mate 50 and the Mate 50 Pro are reportedly delayed until next year.
And the photography-centered P50 and P50 Pro
models have also been delayed. Because of last year's change in U.S. export rules, foundries using American technology to manufacture chips are banned from shipping 5G semiconductors to Huawei
which has forced it to use Snapdragon chips that have been modified to support 4G only. If it feels as though Huawei has one hand tied behind its back as it battles Apple
in China, that's wrong. It actually has both hands tied behind its back.
But we digress. Interest in the iPhone 13 line was strong on Tmall with some consumers in China waiting in line to chat with customer service agents about the new handsets. Some had to wait on lines with as many as 60 callers ahead of them. Tmall's iPhone pre-order period starts on Friday. Helping to generate interest, the new models are priced 300 yuan to 800 yuan ($46 to $124 USD) lower than last year's phones.
The hashtag #LiningUpForiPhoneOnTmall has been trending strongly on Weibo with posts related to the hashtag generating over 200 million views. One Weibo subscriber notes, "I thought we were supposed to support Huawei and other Chinese brands. But it seems like better products speak louder than patriotism."
According to research firm Canalys, Apple was the fourth largest phone vendor in China during the second quarter behind Oppo, Vivo, and Xiaomi. During its fiscal third quarter covering April through June, the tech giant garnered revenue of $14.8 billion in the Greater China region which includes Hong Kong and Taiwan. That was up a strong 58.2% year-over-year.
Thanks to U.S. sanctions, Huawei is not considered an iPhone competitor at this time
Counterpoint's Qi expects the iPhone 13 series to continue to generate the strong momentum of the iPhone 12 line. "There are reasons to believe that the iPhone 13 would sell less because of the lack of new features," he said. "But considering Huawei’s plight, we think the iPhone 13 will sell just as well (as the previous line)."
During the second quarter, Chinese smartphone shipments on the mainland dropped by 17% to 74.9 million units. During the same period last year, 90.7 million handsets shipped proving that China's top Android manufacturers, which include the aforementioned Oppo, Vivo, and Xiaomi, were unable to make up for the lack of a strong presence in the country from Huawei.
To show you how important Huawei has been to the Chinese smartphone market specifically and the country in general, consider what happened during the third quarter of 2019
before the sanctions started to bite. During that quarter, the company's phone shipments soared 66% year-over-year giving it a remarkable 42.4% market share in China. The latter remains the largest smartphone market in the world.