Apple is the largest Chinese smartphone brand for the first time since 2015

Apple is bigger than Oppa and Viva on their home turf.
Photo: Apple / Counterpoint Research

Apple has overtaken local companies Oppo and Vivo and become the largest smartphone brand in China for the first time since 2015, according to the latest market data from Counterpoint Research.

Mobile vendors have been battling for first place since Huawei’s huge crash, and the success of the iPhone 13 – which is more affordable than the iPhone 12 was in China – seems to have helped Apple win the crown last month.

The iPhone 13 is a hit in China

The iPhone 13 has been quite successful in almost all markets since it debuted in September. In October, Apple accounted for 75% of global smartphone profits – more than any other company combined.

The latest line of iPhones is selling particularly well in China, where sales grew by an incredible 46% between September and October, which helped Apple win first place for the first time since December 2015.

“Apple could have gotten more had it not been for the shortage, especially for the Pro versions,” said Counterpoint research director Tarun Pathak. “But still, Apple manages its supply chain better than other OEMs.”

“Overall, the Chinese market has been slow throughout the year and Apple’s growth is a positive sign,” added senior analyst Varun Mishra. “This indicates that Chinese smartphone users are maturing rapidly and want to buy more high-end devices, which can be a good opportunity for brands.”

Huawei crashed

Despite the change in shopping habits, it is unlikely that Apple would have been number one had it not been for the catastrophic fall of Huawei. This time two years ago, it was by far the largest smartphone brand in China, surpassing all others combined.

That all changed when Huawei was blocked from using Google services – a key component of Android – and customers started looking elsewhere. It moved from over 50% of sales at its peak to just 8% last month.

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Naveen Kumar

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