Apple reclaims top smartphone spot in China

US group benefits from Washington’s war on Huawei

Apple has gone to great lengths to placate Beijing amid fierce geopolitical tensions with Washington and has so far avoided falling foul of China’s vociferous army of online nationalists. Photograph: iStock

Apple has gone to great lengths to placate Beijing amid fierce geopolitical tensions with Washington and has so far avoided falling foul of China’s vociferous army of online nationalists. Photograph: iStock

 

Apple has reclaimed the top smartphone seller spot in China for the first time in six years as biting US sanctions throttled shipments from rival Huawei.

The California company cornered 23 per cent of the world’s largest phone market in the fourth quarter of 2021, according to research group Counterpoint, which noted it was Apple’s highest ever market share in the country.

While Apple’s smartphone shipments in China were up 32 per cent to 50 million units from a year earlier, Huawei saw its sales collapse 73 per cent, according to Counterpoint.

Apple has gone to great lengths to placate Beijing amid fierce geopolitical tensions with Washington and has so far avoided falling foul of China’s vociferous army of online nationalists, who have taken aim at other western companies including Intel, Walmart, H&M and Adidas.

Chief executive Tim Cook has been adept at navigating the concerns of Chinese leaders helping to boost the US company’s growth.

Total China smartphone sales were down 9 per cent year on year in the three-month period, with local brand Vivo the second best seller, the data showed.

Chip shortages

Chinese national champion Huawei has been unable to get chips for its premium smartphones for more than a year due to US export controls intended to deny the company access to essential technology and component supplies.

Washington’s sanctions have forced Huawei to sell its budget brand Honor to a government-backed consortium and retool its business away from smartphones, which had once been a key pillar for the company.

Huawei’s revenues last year fell to an estimated 634 billion renminbi (€89 billion), down 29 per cent from 2020.

Apple’s fourth-quarter sales bump came on the back of the launch of its more affordable iPhone 13 model. – Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2022