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Sub-anchor: iPhone shares down in China, Huawei retakes top spot


04-10-2016 05:56 BJT

Chinese consumers' love affair with Apple seems to be hitting a rough patch. The latest Kantar smartphone operating system data shows Apple’s share of the urban Chinese market  has dropped for the first time since 2014.

Meanwhile, China’s home-grown brand Huawei was able to recapture the top spot in its home country. Now for more on this, we are joined in the studio by my colleague Wu Haojun.

Q1. So with this recent shift in Chinese consumers’ preferences, are we looking at a larger trend here, or maybe just a blip on the radar?

Well if it’s anything, it’s a warning to Apple that it’s time to shape up, because its competitors are not waiting around. According to the latest Kantar Worldpanel ComTech data, Apple’s share of the urban Chinese market dropped for the first time since August 2014.

Between February last year and this year, the number of devices running iOS dropped by 3.2 percent, while Android increased its share to above seventy-six percent of the market. Apple also gave up its top spot on the smartphone leader board to Huawei. And it’s not just China that Apple has to watch out for.

iPhone market shares in the US, Germany, France, the UK and Spain have all dropped recently. Kantar attributed the slip to two main factors: a lack of innovation on the part of Apple and increasingly competitive prices from Android devices. So, will this mean we won’t see people camping out for new Apple product releases anymore and that the fervour is over?

Well, maybe not so soon, considering pre-orders for the brand's smaller iPhone SE have been solid in China and globally. But again, like I said, its competitors have certainly been working hard to chip away at Apple’s market advantages.

Q2. While iPhone sales have been lacklustre lately, its Chinese competitor Huawei has seen strong performance globally. What’s the story there?

There's a Chinese saying "not to advance is to fall back" and I think that’s something Huawei understands deeply. And very recently, the Chinese smartphone giant took a daring move by releasing its latest smartphone in the UK, mounting its most serious foray yet into the high-end device market long dominated by Apple and Samsung.

When unveiling the P9 in London, Huawei made it clear the product was designed to directly challenge these brands. As Huawei executive Richard Yu spoke at the event, the screen behind him showed how the P9 compared—favourably—with Apple’s iPhone 6s and Samsung’s Galaxy S7 on a number of specifications. Touting one of the headline features of the P9, its dual lens camera, Yu said the two lenses allow for images with better depth, details and color.

Well, whether this is enough to woo consumers over from its two heavyweight competitors is still an unknown, but what is clear is that Huawei is no longer satisfied with just being a manufacturer of affordable smartphone devices. What it wants consumers to know is that Huawei is a brand that can rival or even surpass Apple and Samsung, the current two leaders of the smartphone world.

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