According to market research firm IDC, the smartphone in China declined 15 per cent to 85.3 million units in Q4 2019, marking the 11th consecutive quarterly decline. It also hit the market’s lowest level since Q1 2013. Throughout the year 2019, China market sold 369 million smartphone units, down 7 per cent year-on-year.
China’s market significantly underperformed in a traditionally high season of smartphone sales. Factors like the slowdown of 4G smartphone purchases and weaker demand than major vendors’ anticipated for 5G smartphones contributed to this drastic decline. As per the IDC report, distribution channels started to clear 4G inventory in anticipation of 5G uptake in the new year.
In terms of market share, Huawei maintained the lead in China with a 39 per cent market share by growing 11 per cent over Q4 2018. Huawei led the number of market share despite a sharp sequential decline of 20 per cent. Brands like Oppo and Vivo remained in second and third place, respectively.
However, Oppo’s shipments fell faster than the market average at 25 per cent. Meanwhile, Vivo’s shipments fell to 29 per cent.
“Oppo and Vivo suffered from a lack of channel appetite in Q4 amid Huawei’s strength,” said Louis Liu, Canalys Research Analyst. “However, there were some positive notes.
Nonetheless, Vivo became the second-largest in 5G smartphone shipments following Huawei in 2019, with 1.2 million units shipped. Oppo’s new Reno brand, on the other hand, also started to show promise, as its Reno 3 series shipped over 400,000 units within a week.
Apple, meanwhile, moved up one position to number four whereas another Chinese brand Xiaomi rounded the top five in Q4 2019.
“With the broader rollout of 5G and more incentives given by operators this year, 5G smartphones are expected to exceed 150 million units in 2020. Smaller vendors are hoping to break the market dominance of major brands, while competition between the top five will be cutthroat,” added Peng.
“The overall market also faces high pressure to downsize with the black swan event of the outbreak of coronavirus. This will have a significant and long-lasting adverse effect on the country’s tech manufacturing industry, retail sector and consumer consumption. Vendors must start to prepare for further business risk and disruptions amid the developing outbreak.”
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