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Huawei Surges in Chinese Smartphone Market as Apple Slips

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New data from Counterpoint Research reveals significant shifts in China’s smartphone market during the first quarter of 2024, with Huawei emerging as a major winner while Apple faced notable challenges.

According to Counterpoint’s Market Pulse Service, China’s overall smartphone sales saw a modest 1.5% year-on-year growth in Q1 2024, marking a second consecutive quarter of positive growth. Notably, Huawei experienced a remarkable 69.7% year-on-year increase in market share, solidifying its position in the market. This growth was attributed to Huawei’s successful launch of the 5G-capable Mate 60 series and its enduring brand reputation, particularly in the premium segment priced above $600. In contrast, Apple witnessed a 19.1% year-on-year decline in market share during the same period, partly due to Huawei’s gains in this segment.

Honor, another major player, also saw a positive quarter with an 11.5% year-on-year growth in Q1. This was fueled by the popularity of models like the X50 and Play 40, as well as an expansion in offline sales channels.

Counterpoint Senior Analyst Mengmeng Zhang noted that Q1 2024 was intensely competitive, with only a 3% difference separating the top six players in terms of market share. Zhang attributed this competition to the strategic marketing and promotional efforts during the festive season, particularly by Chinese OEMs offering cost-effective smartphones targeted at the low-end segment.

Looking ahead, Counterpoint estimates low single-digit year-on-year growth for China’s smartphone market in 2024. Analysts anticipate smartphone manufacturers to continue exploring new AI applications, particularly focusing on mid-range devices.

Despite Apple’s recent setbacks in China, Senior Research Analyst Ivan Lam expressed optimism about a potential recovery, pointing towards forthcoming initiatives such as new color options and aggressive sales strategies. Lam also highlighted anticipation for Apple’s AI features expected to be unveiled at WWDC in June, which could significantly influence the brand’s trajectory in the market.

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