iPhone maker hits record market share, claims No.1 spot

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Customers buy iPhone13 phones at apple’s flagship smart products store in Shanghai, China, on Oct. 12, 2021.

Xing Yun | Costfoto | Barcroft Media | Getty Images

Apple’s smartphone market share in China hit a record high in the fourth quarter of 2021, with the iPhone maker reclaiming the number one spot in the country for the first time in six years.

The Cupertino giant had 23% of the market and sales grew 32% year-on-year in the December quarter, according to market analysts Counterpoint Research.

Apple saw solid growth despite a 9% decline in China’s overall smartphone sales, thanks to its iPhone 13 line-up, which was launched in September.

“The new iPhone 13 has led the success due to a relatively lower starting price at its release in China, as well as the new camera and 5G features,” Counterpoint Research’s analyst Mengmeng Zhang, said in a press release.

5G refers to next-generation super-fast internet which is rolling out around the world and particularly quickly in China.

“Furthermore, Huawei, Apple’s main competitor in the premium market, faced declining sales due to the ongoing US sanctions.”

Chinese giant Huawei — once the number one smartphone player in China and the world — has been crippled by U.S. sanctions which cut the company off from key components and software for its devices.

Huawei had just 7% market share in China in the fourth quarter and sales declined 73% year-on-year, Counterpoint Research said.

Chinese brand Vivo sat in second place with 19% market share, followed by Oppo with 17%.

Honor, the smartphone brand that was previously owned by Huawei but spun off into a separate business, was the fourth biggest player with 15% market share, followed by Xiaomi with 13%.

All of these brands are Chinese domestic smartphone makers that have grown in the global markets as well.

China market declines

Counterpoint Research said sales in China’s smartphone market fell 2% year-on-year for several reasons.

The global semiconductor and component shortage has impacted the ability for vendors to ship phones, according to Counterpoint Research senior analyst Ivan Lam.

Meanwhile, “China’s average smartphone replacement cycle is becoming longer,” Lam said.

The analyst added that China is “experiencing a complex economic environment where exports are driving the growth and domestic spending remains lackluster.” Sluggish consumer spending has been a drag on the Chinese economy.

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