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China Smartphone Shipments Fell 11% in Q4 2018

by Neil Mawston | Jan 24, 2019

According to the latest research from our Smartphone Country Share Tracker (CST) service, CHINA smartphone shipments tumbled 11 percent annually to reach 108 million units in the fourth quarter of 2018.

Huawei was the star performer and clear market leader. Apple and Xiaomi lost ground.

Clients can read the full report here.

China smartphone TOTAL shipments declined 11 percent annually from 121.3 million units in Q4 2017 to 107.9 million in Q4 2018. The Chinese smartphone market is in recession and has declined for five consecutive quarters. The smartphone market is suffering from longer replacement cycles and weak consumer spending. Smartphone shipments declined 11 percent annually to hit 408.5 million during full-year 2018. The past year has been exceptionally tough and one the smartphone industry will want to forget.

HUAWEI shipped 30.0 million smartphones and captured a record 28 percent marketshare in China during Q4 2018. Huawei’s growth soared 23 percent annually and it is now the clear market leader. A strong product portfolio, famous brand and extensive retail channels were among the main success factors.

OPPO clung on to second place with 21 percent smartphone marketshare in China during Q4 2018. OPPO’s shipments fell 2 percent annually, but still grew faster than average. Huawei is piling pressure on OPPO in mid-tier and offline retail channels across major cities such as Shanghai. OPPO is trying to fight back, by targeting more online channels with improved models such as the K series.

VIVO sits in third position with 21 percent marketshare and is very close to overtaking OPPO. Vivo’s 8 percent annual growth rate is bettered only by Huawei. Vivo is growing online with the Z series, and launching more premium models from its NEX range that aim to differentiate by tech innovation.

APPLE overtook Xiaomi and nudged up to fourth position with 10 percent smartphone marketshare in China in Q4 2018. However, iPhone shipments dropped 22 percent annually and this was the firm’s worst performance since early 2017. Apple iPhone has now fallen on a year-over-year basis in China for 8 of the past 12 quarters. Apple has been under pressure in China for the past three years. Ongoing patent battles with Qualcomm are a distraction, while Apple is being heavily criticized for its expensive retail prices. Apple is in danger of pricing the iPhone out of China.

XIAOMI slipped to fifth place and captured 9 percent marketshare in China during Q4 2018. Xiaomi’s strong growth in its home market has been halted and it slumped 35 percent annually. Xiaomi suffered from overstocked channel inventories, plus intensified competition from rivals Huawei and Vivo.

The top five brands now account for an impressive 9 in 10 of all smartphones shipped in China.

Many smaller vendors below the top five, like Meizu, are struggling to keep up and profits are diminishing.

Exhibit 1: China Smartphone Vendor Shipments and Marketshare in Q4 2018  [1]

China Smartphone Shipments (Millions of Units)

Q4 '17

2017

Q4 '18

2018

Huawei

24.3

90.8

30.0

105.1

OPPO

22.8

86.6

22.4

82.8

Vivo

20.5

73.1

22.2

79.3

Xiaomi

15.5

52.7

10.0

50.0

Apple

14.0

36.7

10.9

34.2

Others

24.2

119.8

12.4

57.1

Total

121.3

459.6

107.9

408.5

 

 

 

 

 

China Smartphone Vendor Marketshare (%)

Q4 '17

2017

Q4 '18

2018

Huawei

20.0%

19.8%

27.8%

25.7%

OPPO

18.8%

18.8%

20.8%

20.3%

Vivo

16.9%

15.9%

20.6%

19.4%

Xiaomi

12.8%

11.5%

9.3%

12.2%

Apple

11.5%

8.0%

10.1%

8.4%

Others

20.0%

26.1%

11.5%

14.0%

Total

100.0%

100.0%

100.0%

100.0%

Source: Strategy Analytics

 

 

[1]  Numbers are rounded.

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