As Apple, Inc. AAPL gears up to release its December quarter earnings scorecard, a data point released Wednesday increases confidence in a strong showing.
Apple Back On Top: Apple has overtaken local player Vivo to become China's top smartphone vendor in the December quarter, Counterpoint Research said in a recent report. This is the first time Apple has climbed to the pole position since the fourth quarter of 2015, when the iPhone 6 supercycle was underway.
The tech giant commanded 23% of the overall smartphone market in China in the December quarter of 2021, its highest percentage ever, and up from a 16% share Apple held at the same time last year.
The strong market share comes on the back of 32% year-over-year growth and a 79% sequential increase.
Apple's success was attributed to the relatively lower starting price of the iPhone 13 at the time of its release in China, along with the new camera and 5G features of the latest iPhone iteration, as well as the travails of Huawei, which competes with the company in the high end.
The second-ranked Vivo had a 19% share of the overall market, up from 18% in the year-ago quarter. The market share of Oppo, Honor and Xiaomi stood at 17%, 15% and 13%, respectively.
China Smartphone Market Sluggish: Overall Chinese smartphone sales, however, declined 9% year-over-year and were down 2% quarter-over-quarter in the fourth quarter.
The annual performance was also lackluster, as shipments fell for the fourth consecutive year in 2021. Sales fell 2% in the year.
"The market in China continues to decline due to various factors in both the supply side and the demand side," said senior analyst Ivan Lam.
The ongoing component shortages, the lengthening of China's average smartphone replacement cycle and a softer domestic economic environment are primarily impacting shipments, the analyst said.
Smartphone designs within brands have also become more homogeneous, especially in hardware, failing to motivate consumers to upgrade, he added.
At last check, Apple shares were advancing 1.78% to $162.63.
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