Published: Thu, February 14, 2019
Markets | By Noel Gibbs

IPhone Sales in China Plunged 20 Percent Last Quarter: IDC

IPhone Sales in China Plunged 20 Percent Last Quarter: IDC

Apple is reportedly trying to address the price factor with discounts and carrier subsidies, but it remains to be seen how these efforts will reflect in terms of sales of the 2018 iPhone generation.

Sales of Apple's flagship product there plunged 20% during the calendar fourth quarter, falling twice as much as the slumping Chinese smartphone market's sales overall, according to an IDC market research report.

It wasn't just Apple that got whacked, though, as China's entire smartphone market shrunk almost 10% in the quarter, lending credence to Apple officials saying that the drop was related to overall conditions in China.

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Apple CEO Tim Cook said when Apple announced its revenue miss in January that almost all of the revenue miss can be attributed to China. The country has been a huge source of growth in major years, but slowing economic growth and smartphone market saturation is taking hold.

A slowing economy, lengthening replacement times and the iPhone's hefty price tag contributed to the U.S. giant's decline in China, IDC said.

Despite the fall in demand, Huawei managed to rake in a 23.3% gain in shipments while rivals Oppo and Vivo managed to have modest gains of 1.5% and 3.1% respectively.

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"China is Apple's second most important market, after the US". Apple still provides total revenue by region, though, and its "Greater China" sales - including Taiwan and Hong Kong - were down 27% annually to $13 million, according to CNBC. Mr Cook however emphasised the long haul, highlighting 19 per cent growth in services revenue. "Apple didn't seem to change its Chinese marketing plans". That's despite grappling with an unusually turbulent few months during which its finance chief was arrested on allegations of bank fraud, and the US marshalled its allies to try and block the company from selling next-generation networking equipment.

Huawei, which briefly surpassed Apple to become the world's No. 2 smartphone brand past year, led all major brands in China.

IDC said the market outlook for this year is not optimistic, and that competition for customers will be severe.

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IDC said: "5G phones will still comprise only a very small portion of the overall market".

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