For the first time ever, Apple is the top smartphone vendor in China, according to a new report from research firm Canalys.
Here’s the note from Canalys:
The incredible popularity of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus in China in Q4 2014 has led Apple to take first place in the Chinese smart phone market for the first time by units shipped. This is an amazing result, given that the average selling price of Apple’s handsets is nearly double those of its nearest competitors.
While Chinese smart phone vendors are quickly gaining ground internationally, Apple has turned the tables on them in their home market. The company is finally riding the large screen and LTE trends in China, which have been vital to its success, along with a well-timed launch and a clampdown on grey exports of its products out of Hong Kong. The top four vendors in Q4 in China by units shipped were Apple, Xiaomi, Samsung and Huawei, respectively.
This is big news for Apple as it prepares to deliver what analysts say will be a blowout quarter for iPhone sales. Over the last year, the top smartphone vendor in China has shifted between Samsung, Lenovo, and the startup Xiaomi.
Apple has never been able to claim the top spot, but according to Canalys, the iPhone 6 launch was massive in China.
China is one of the most important markets for smartphone vendors. Most people there are still making the transition from regular phones to smartphones, so it’s a big battlefield for companies trying to snap up new users.
Xiaomi, a four-year-old startup based in China, has been particularly interesting to watch over the last two years or so. Its phones are very popular in China, and, until now, it usually sold more units than Apple. Xiaomi makes really nice Android phones with high-end specs, but sells them for about half the price of other premium devices.
But Xiaomi’s strategy hasn’t put a dent in the iPhone’s momentum in China, and the latest report from Canalys proves it. Instead, Xiaomi’s rise has been more damaging to Samsung, which is still the largest smartphone vendor in the world. Samsung’s profits continue to shrink as consumers choose cheaper Android devices like Xiaomi’s phones that are just as good, but cost about half as much.
According to Canalys, Samsung is the third-largest smartphone vendor in China behind Apple and Xiaomi.
Based on the success of the iPhone in China, it doesn’t seem to matter that it’s much more expensive than alternative Android phones. The iPhone offers a unique experience, and that seems to be worth the premium price to a lot of people in China.
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