Apple slides in China as homegrown rivals up their design game

Photo: AFP

Photo: AFP

Beijing: For an answer to Apple Inc.’s 30% sales slump in China, just look to what their homegrown rivals are up to.

Huawei Technologies Co. turned to prestigious cameramaker Leica to improve photos as Oppo Electronics Corp. boosted components to make its phones faster. Xiaomi Corp. has just unveiled a device with a display covering almost the whole front after collaborating with iconic designer Philippe Starck.

Along with improved customer service and a push to open their own retail stores, especially in smaller cities, Chinese smartphone makers have moved away from budget devices. That helped them secure the top four spots in the local market in the September quarter, according to data from Counterpoint Research. Meanwhile Apple’s sales in the Greater China region have slumped.

“They’re doing more marketing and doing much more customer engagement with the younger generation in China,” said Di Jin, China research manager at International Data Corporation (IDC).

Oppo shipments jumped 82% in the latest period from a year earlier and the brand garnered 16.6% of the Chinese market, according to Counterpoint. Vivo Electronics Corp.’s shipments more than doubled to take 16.2% and second place. Huawei and Xiaomi were next while Apple came in fifth.

For Apple, sales in Greater China last quarter declined to $8.79 billion from $12.5 billion a year earlier, according to results the company released on Tuesday. That’s even with the release of new iPhone models.

“The focus on traditional offline retail and wider distribution network which still constitutes three-fourth of smartphone demand has been key to Oppo and Vivo success,” said James Yan, a research director at Counterpoint.

Huawei and Xiaomi have both brought out premium devices, seeking to capture upmarket users that have typically flocked to Apple and Samsung Electronics Co.

Xiaomi unveiled its most expensive smartphones ever on Tuesday, with the Mi Note 2 and Mi Mix, developed with Starck and featuring a ceramic body and bezel-less screen.Bloomberg


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