Apple secures “Global Smartphone Seller” title despite headwinds in China: Report


In a surprising turn of events, Apple’s iPhone series claimed the coveted title of the best-selling smartphone in China for the first time last year, despite facing fierce competition from local rivals and increasing restrictions imposed by the Chinese government on foreign technology. According to market tracker IDC, the iPhone secured the top spot in shipments in both the fourth quarter and the overall performance in 2023.

Contrary to initial reports of declining iPhone sales in the fourth quarter, IDC data revealed that Apple’s success was primarily attributed to declining less than its competitors during the period. Analysts had previously suggested a downturn in iPhone sales due to waning enthusiasm for Apple’s latest hardware in the world’s largest smartphone market. However, timely discounts and promotions helped mitigate the impact, allowing Apple to outperform both domestic and international competitors.

For the entirety of 2023, Apple experienced a modest 2.2% drop in sales, which proved to be more resilient than local rivals such as Honor Device Co. and Vivo, both of which suffered double-digit slumps. The overall smartphone market in China saw a 5% decline in shipments, marking the lowest volume in a decade. This decline was attributed to a soft economic recovery and weakened consumer sentiment, according to IDC.

Notably, Huawei made a significant comeback with its Mate 60 series, experiencing a remarkable 36% increase in shipments during the holiday quarter. This resurgence propelled Huawei back into the top five smartphone makers in China, intensifying the competition in the market.

IDC research analyst Arthur Gao commented on Apple’s remarkable achievement, stating, “Apple’s climb to the top spot in 2023, especially in light of renewed competition from Huawei and the soft spending sentiment, marks a tremendous success.” He attributed Apple’s success to timely price promotions in third-party channels that stimulated demand.

Despite securing the title of the world’s biggest smartphone seller in 2023, Apple is expected to face challenges sustaining demand in China. Analysts anticipate further weakening of iPhone sales in the country, particularly in light of government restrictions, with agencies and government-backed companies reportedly instructing staff to refrain from bringing iPhones and other foreign devices to work in sensitive sectors.

(With inputs from Bloomberg)



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Published: 26 Jan 2024, 11:28 AM IST


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