Apple's iPhone shipments plunge in China as Huawei tightens grip

Apple's iPhone shipments plunge in China as Huawei tightens grip

While Apple chief executive Tim Cook blamed the weak Chinese economy when the company announced earlier last month a downgrade in revenue guidance for the quarter ended December, analysts said he may have glossed over strategic missteps in the world's largest smartphone market and the effects of fierce competition from fast-improving Chinese Android handset makers. Profit was $19.9 billion or $4.18 a share.

The California-based firm commanded just a 9.1 percent of the Chinese smartphone sector previous year, placing it fifth among all makers, Beijing News reported today, citing a publication from market researcher IDC.

Apple's October-December shipments suffered a almost 20-percent decline from the same period in the previous year.

However, as per the IDC report, the iPhone maker isn't the worst performing brand as Xiaomi Corp, another China-based company, fared even worse in the final months of past year as its shipments plunged nearly 35 percent.

Strategy Analytics, a global consulting firm, said Apple has an Asia problem, particularly in China. It's been more than 10 years since day one and iPhones remain one of the most popular phones on the market.

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Surprisingly, Apple may be spooked enough by the drop in sales to lower its prices.

"China is Apple's second most important market, after the US".

IDC said the iPhone's high price specifically "led to the decline of Apple's domestic market", while the increased strength of Huawei's brand and its flagship phone's "excellent technology'" helped it continue to widen the gap over Apple. "De-subsidization has made the iPhone look much more expensive at the point of sale in China, causing iPhone demand to crash", he said.

Now, experts are blaming Apple for pushing up prices while demand for smartphones was falling. Apple still provides total revenue by region, though, and its "Greater China" sales - including Taiwan and Hong Kong - were down 27% annually to $13 million, according to CNBC.

Apple still relies on China to produce many of its products, so it will be watching the trade negotiations between China and the USA closely.

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