Domestic brands lead way in Q4 smartphone shipments

By Xie Jun Source:Global Times Published: 2017/2/6 21:43:39

As market matures, users look for innovation


Logos of OPPO, Vivo, Huawei and Apple seen along a street in Dongguan, South China's Guangdong Province Photo: CFP

Logos of OPPO, Vivo, Huawei and Apple along a street in Dongguan, South China's Guangdong Province Photo: CFP

Market shares of major smartphone manufacturers in the fourth quarter of 2016

Market shares of major smartphone manufacturers in the fourth quarter of 2016





China's smartphone shipments surged in the fourth quarter of 2016, with domestic brands like OPPO and Huawei leading the way, statistics from International Data Corp (IDC) showed on Monday.

Apple replaced Xiaomi to become the fourth-ranking smartphone brand in terms of shipments in China in the fourth quarter, compared with fifth place in the third quarter.

According to IDC, China's smartphone shipments rose 18.7 percent year-on-year to 135.7 million units in the fourth quarter, compared with a 5.8 percent rise in the third quarter.

On a yearly basis, Chinese smartphone shipments were up 8.7 percent in 2016, much higher than the 1.6 percent growth recorded in 2015.

Zhu Dalin, an analyst with IT research firm Analysys International, said that China's smartphone market is becoming saturated overall. But Zhu added that considering the smartphone's relatively short life cycle, which means users must frequently upgrade, there's still potential for the domestic smartphone market.

"I don't think China's smartphone shipments will contract in the next one or two years," Zhu told the Global Times Monday.

Domestic brands continued to dominate the Chinese smartphone market. OPPO topped the market with shipments of 24.5 million units in the fourth quarter, accounting for nearly one-fifth of the domestic smartphone market. It was followed by two other Chinese brands, Huawei and Vivo, which shipped 22.9 million units and 21.7 million units, respectively, in the fourth quarter.

Xiaomi, which shipped 10.1 million units in the fourth quarter, was the fifth most-purchased smartphone brand in China during the period, the IDC data showed.

IDC data also reflected that OPPO, Huawei and Vivo were the three largest smartphone brands in China in 2016 in terms of shipments.

Liu Dingding, a Beijing-based independent analyst who visited one of OPPO's factories in 2013, said the brand had put a lot of effort into research and development. "Quality is the No.1 factor behind the brand's rapid growth in China," he told the Global Times Monday.

Large-scale advertising and a mature physical sales network also helped the brand thrive, Liu commented.

Apple, grappling with the fierce competition from domestic smartphone brands, did reasonably well in the fourth quarter with shipments of 14.9 million units.

The US smartphone giant saw shipments grow in China from 8.2 million units in the third quarter. Apple was the fifth-largest smartphone brand in China in the third quarter, falling behind Xiaomi.

Zhu said that most smartphone brands have better business in the fourth quarter every year, when there are several festivals including the online shopping carnival on November 11. As a result, Apple's improvement in the fourth quarter was nothing special.

Apple's general situation in China was not bright last year. According to the IDC data, its shipments stood at 44.9 million units in 2016, down 23.2 percent year-on-year.

"Apple is known for its high-end products. When Apple entered China, the country's high-end smartphone market was empty, but now it's more of a saturated market, so it's very hard for the brand to achieve very fast growth like it used to do," Zhu said.

Liu said that whether Apple would achieve greater success in the Chinese market depends on whether it can make breakthroughs in innovation. He said that Apple's record of innovation has been mediocre in recent years.

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