It seems the unthinkable might just happen. Pressured by the rising stars of homegrown vendors and a dip in device shipments, it seems Apple could just fall off the list of the top five smartphone vendors in China.
According to a new report from Canalys, Apple was pushed out of its fourth place seat in the second quarter of this year by Xiaomi after the latter grew smartphone shipments by 60 percent to hit 15 million. The rest of the top tier was dominated by domestic vendors, including Huawei with 23 million shipments, Oppo with 21 million shipments, and Vivo with 16 million shipments.
“China’s smartphone market continues to consolidate. The top five brands accounted for almost three quarters of shipments, with the top four all growing and adding 10 percent to their cumulative share compared with the same quarter a year ago,” Canalys Research Analyst Hattie He noted.
But Apple wasn’t the only one to lose ground. Canalys noted the remaining vendors in the top ten list – which contains Apple, Samsung, and Meizu – all recorded shipment declines in the quarter. Overall, shipments in the Chinese smartphone market fell 3 percent to 113 million in the second quarter, Canalys reported.
On the global stage, Chinese vendors have been on the rise over the past several quarters. In the third quarter 2016, Gartner and TrendForce reported Huawei, Oppo, and BBK Communication Equipment were the only vendors in the top five (the other two being Samsung and Apple) to increase sales and market share during that period. In the first quarter of 2017, Huawei, Oppo, and Vivo continued to dominate, raking in the lion’s share of smartphone shipment growth.
According to He, the development of online sales channels has been key in their meteoric rise, particularly in the massive China marketplace.
“Adopting a diverse channel strategy is key to success in China, as competition has intensified in online and offline channels, resulting in many vendors losing market share quickly,” He noted. “Huawei and Xiaomi have strong online brands, and are now rapidly growing their offline channels. Oppo and Vivo face greater pressure on their mid-range from Redmi and Honor. The failure to establish online channels will slow the momentum of these rising stars.”