Apple’s latest iPhone 15, isn’t selling as well in China as its previous iPhone 14, according to recent analyses. These reports reveal a combination of factors contributing to the decline in iPhone 15 sales in China, including a general slowdown in consumer spending and the increasing competition from rivals like Huawei Technologies.
Market research firm Counterpoint Research estimated that sales of the iPhone 15 in its initial 17 days after release were down by 4.5% compared to the iPhone 14. Another analysis by Jefferies, led by Edison Lee, indicated an even steeper decline in sales, possibly in double-digit percentages, compared to its predecessor. This decline coincided with Huawei’s successful release of the Mate 60 Pro, which helped Huawei outsell Apple in the overall smartphone market.
These findings represent a potential setback for Apple, particularly at a time when it’s facing the weakest demand for smartphones in a decade and dealing with issues related to overheating models. If these initial estimates are accurate, this would mark one of the weakest performances for an iPhone debut in China since around 2018, when local brands like Oppo and Vivo began to gain popularity among Asian consumers.
Counterpoint Research attributed the iPhone’s slump in China mainly to the country’s struggling economy, which is still recovering from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the iPhone 15’s launch in China coincided with the release of the Mate 60 Pro, celebrated for its advanced Chinese-made processor, and a government mandate to expand the ban on iPhone use to government agencies and state-run companies. These challenges highlight the growing difficulties Apple faces in the Chinese market.
Despite these concerns, it’s worth noting that the iPhone 15 performed well in the United States, with likely double-digit sales growth compared to 2022 in the first nine days of sales. This positive performance in the U.S., the largest market for iPhones globally, helps offset the disappointing numbers from China.
Analysts remain divided on the long-term impact of these developments in China, which is the world’s largest smartphone market. Some argue that Huawei’s increasing prominence may erode Apple’s dominance in the higher-end market segment. Counterpoint Research predicts that Huawei could sell 5 to 6 million units of the Mate 60 Pro in China alone this year, with the potential for double-digit growth by 2024. In a recent note, Jefferies even stated that Huawei has taken the top spot in the market, surpassing Apple.
“The trend suggests iPhone would lose to Huawei in 2024,” wrote Edison Lee and his colleagues. “We believe weak demand in China would eventually lead to lower-than-expected global shipments of the iPhone.” In essence, these trends indicate that Apple may face significant challenges in maintaining its position in the Chinese smartphone market in the coming years.