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SINGAPORE: The iPhone took the top spot in smartphone sales in China last year in spite of facing numerous challenges, Bloomberg reported on Thursday (Jan 25), marking the first time that the Apple mobile phone has taken first place in China.

Additionally, the iPhone is the number one smartphone in terms of sales around the globe for 2023, due to an all-time high market share and ended Samsung’s almost 15-year-long dominance.

“While we saw some strong growth from low-end Android players like Transsion and Xiaomi in the second half of 2023, stemming from rapid growth in emerging markets, the biggest winner is clearly Apple,” said Nabila Popal, research director with International Data Corporation’s (IDC) Worldwide Tracker team.

In China, the iPhone faced competition from tech giant Huawei as well as other brands including OPPO and HONOR. China has also recently advanced bans on the iPhone. Last month, more agencies and state-backed companies asked employees to not bring their Apple and other foreign devices to work.

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Apple’s success in China comes as even more of a surprise, given China’s endeavors to decrease its citizens’ reliance on overseas technologies for more than ten years. The government asked companies with ties to the state, including banks, to make the move to brands that use local software.

According to IDC, Apple phones had the most shipments in the fourth quarter in China and took pole position for the year overall, helped in part by discounts and promotions. Most recently, Apple cut the retail prices of the iPhone 15 by as much as 500 yuan (S$94).

Apple trailed behind Huawei for three years before becoming the country’s top-selling smartphone. Bloomberg pointed out, however, that the company’s sales success in the last part of 2023 simply meant that its sales declined less than its competitors. While Apple’s sales decreased by 2.2 per cent, other brands suffered a greater drop.

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IDC also noted that 2023’s sales volume was the lowest in 10 years, partly because of weak consumer sentiment and soft economic recovery.

Apple’s dominance may, however, be short-lived. Huawei’s highly successful Mate 60 series caused a 36 per cent increase in shipments during the holiday period.

“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. Apple achieved this thanks to timely price promotions in its third-party channels, which stimulated demand,” said Arthur Gao, a research analyst at IDC. /TISG

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