Science & Technology

Apple’s iPhone Sales in China Demonstrate Growth

In China, a significant increase in sales of Apple’s iPhone smartphones was recorded in April.

Apple's iPhone Sales in China Demonstrate Growth

The relevant information on Tuesday, May 28, was made public by the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology (CAICT). Shipments of devices from foreign companies to the smartphone market of the Asian country last month amounted to 3.495 million units. This figure is 52% higher than the result recorded for the same period in 2023.

It is worth noting that in the materials that were made public by CAICT on Tuesday, there was no direct mention of Apple. At the same time, this technology giant, based in Cupertino, California, is a foreign manufacturer with a bigger share among other overseas brands which products are available in the smartphone market of the Asian country. Based on this circumstance, media representatives concluded that iPhone sales increased in China in April. It is worth noting that the corresponding assumption is logical since Apple products have the largest share in the structure of foreign shipments of cell phones to an Asian country.

Recently, the iPhone developer has been facing significant difficulties in its activities in China. Since the beginning of the current year, Apple smartphone sales in the Asian country have been on a downward trajectory. The corresponding tendency is largely due to increased competition. In this context, first of all, the strengthening of the market position of the Chinese technology giant Huawei should be mentioned. Last year, this company presented the Mate 60 Pro smartphone, which became a very resonant event, and not just a kind of standard debut in a series of unremarkable device update practices that are typical for the cell phone market. The mentioned development is equipped with a Kirin 9000s processor with a 7-nanometer chip made in China. This smartphone component has become something of a sensation, as it was widely believed that under the conditions of restrictions imposed by the United States on the supply of advanced microcircuits and equipment for the production of corresponding products, the Asian country is not able to design such technologies independently. In the US, a group of Republican lawmakers led by Michael McCaul even demanded tougher export controls after the debut of the Mate 60 Pro, saying that the Kirin 9000s is evidence of the insufficiency of existing measures of appropriate orientation. The smartphone, which became a sensation, significantly strengthened Huawei’s market position and proved to be very popular among Chinese consumers.

Also in the Asian country, Apple faced such a problem, which can be conditionally described as limited use. Last year, the media reported that China has a ban on the use of iPhones in the workplace by employees of state agencies and organizations, backed by the government of the Asian country. At the official level, the relevant information was commented on in fact in the context of formally neutral formulations that do not provide for an unambiguous and unequivocal refutation and at the same time contain something like very clear hints that the journalists’ data reflect either the whole truth or a significant part of it. The press secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China Mao Ning, in a press briefing, announced an increase in the number of incidents related to the security of Apple smartphones. This statement was not detailed. Mao Ning also noted that there are no laws in the Asian country prohibiting citizens from buying products from Apple and other foreign technology brands. At the same time, such a state of affairs obviously will not be an obstacle to certain limitations in the context of the possibilities of use in several circumstances.

Also last year, the media reported that the mentioned practice could be scaled up and affect other foreign firms. At that time, it became known from insiders that in several provinces of China, municipal authorities were encouraging the refusal to use Apple products and promoting the choice in favor of devices from local manufacturers. A similar tendency, as reported by the media, is typical for private companies.

At the same time, the Chinese market is one of the largest in the world, which is why Apple needs to have favorable conditions for doing business and selling products in this region. The technology giant is showing interest in continuing and developing its presence in China. For example, in March, Apple CEO Tim Cook personally came to Shanghai on the occasion of the opening of the company’s new store.

It is worth noting that the spring of 2024 marked the beginning of a positive period for the technology giant as part of its presence in China. In March, the company’s smartphone shipments to the Asian country increased by 12% year-on-year. At the same time, in January and February, the corresponding figure fell by more than 35%.

In May, sales of Apple products in the Asian country may show even stronger growth, as the company launched a discount campaign on its official Tmall website in China. In this case, the discount amount reaches 2,300 yuan ($318) for some iPhone configurations. The decision to launch the corresponding campaign was made by the technology giant after Huawei presented a new series of Pura 70 smartphones in April, which is a kind of continuation of the Mate 60 line. In the first quarter of 2024, the mentioned Chinese manufacturer became in fact the main player in the Asian country’s cell phones market. Huawei ranks second in the corresponding popularity ranking, but at the same time, its spinoff Honor is the leader.

It is worth noting that Apple and its Chinese resellers have launched a discount campaign since the very beginning of 2024. These solutions are aimed at improving the market position of the technology giant in the Asian country.

In the first quarter of 2024, 11.7 million Huawei devices were sold in the Chinese smartphone market. This indicator increased by 110% year-on-year. The relevant information was made public by IDC. In the first ten months of 2023, according to media reports, in the Asian country, more than 5,200 stores were licensed to trade Huawei products.

In April, total smartphone sales in China totaled 22.7 million units. This level of sales increased by 25.5% compared to the result for the same period last year. The relevant information was published by CAICT.

Will Wong, an analyst at IDC, says that the April increase in sales of smartphones from foreign brands indicates that Apple was preparing for the 618 online shopping festival, as evidenced by the discounts launched by the technology giant. Also, according to the expert, resilient high-end users have begun to buy higher-quality cell phones for longer operation, which will eventually cause longer device replacement cycles.

Analysts Steven Tseng and Sean Chen say that the shrinking iPhone share in the Chinese smartphone market may stabilize shortly, as, according to them, local consumers are gradually starting to pay attention to Apple products in the context of choosing products for purchase after mass admiration for Huawei’s achievements. They also say that there is a growing interest in premium products in China, which can also potentially have a positive impact on iPhone sales figures.

Serhii Mikhailov

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Serhii’s track record of study and work spans six years at the Faculty of Philology and eight years in the media, during which he has developed a deep understanding of various aspects of the industry and honed his writing skills; his areas of expertise include fintech, payments, cryptocurrency, and financial services, and he is constantly keeping a close eye on the latest developments and innovations in these fields, as he believes that they will have a significant impact on the future direction of the economy as a whole.