Apple Secures Top Position in Chinese Smartphone Market for the First Time: IDC

Apple has clinched the leading position in the Chinese smartphone market in 2023, achieving an unprecedented market share of 17.3 percent, IDC report said.
Apple iPhone 12 at AT&T storeThis historic feat comes amid a challenging conditions, with Chinese smartphone market experiencing a 5.0 percent decline, totaling 271.3 million units in 2023 compared to the previous year, the latest data from the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker said.

The year 2023 witnessed the lowest volume of smartphone shipments in a decade, attributed to a sluggish China economic recovery and subdued consumer sentiment, IDC said.

However, signs of a market rebound emerged in the fourth quarter of 2023 (4Q23), where a modest year-over-year growth of 1.2 percent was recorded, with shipments reaching 73.6 million units.

This marked the cessation of a ten-quarter-long streak of year-over-year decline, signaling a potential turnaround for the smartphone industry.

The resurgence in the final quarter was primarily propelled by resilient high-end consumers in tier 1-3 cities, driving demand for flagship smartphone products. In contrast, the low- to mid-range device segment faced continued challenges, hindering overall market growth, as these categories constitute over half of the Chinese smartphone market.

“Apple’s climb to the top spot in 2023, especially in light of renewed competition from Huawei and the soft spending sentiment, marks a tremendous success for Apple,” Arthur Guo, senior research analyst in Client System Research for IDC China, said.

IDC attributed the success of Apple to strategic price promotions in third-party channels, which effectively stimulated consumer demand for iPhones.

Honor, securing the second position, maintained a strong foothold in the market through improved channel partnerships and a comprehensive product strategy. Their success was evident in capturing both high-end consumers with a successful foldable lineup and the low-to-mid range with several popular models.

A noteworthy development in the fourth quarter was the return of Huawei to the Top 5 ranking in China smartphone market after an absence of more than two years.

Will Wong, senior research manager for Client Devices at IDC Asia/Pacific, emphasized the intensified competition resulting from Huawei’s resurgence, stating, “This will only intensify the competition as no vendors will want to lose a top 5 position in the world’s largest smartphone market.”

The revival of Huawei adds a new dynamic to the landscape, promising heightened competition among major players in the Chinese smartphone arena.