Apple Inc.’s iPhone sales slump in China is deepening and the company is likely to see volumes decline further this year, according to Jefferies analysts led by Edison Lee. The iPhone maker’s latest generation, iPhone 15, got off to an atypically sluggish start in China last year, which most recently expanded to a 30% year-on-year decline, Lee and colleagues said in a note on Sunday, citing industry checks. The rest of the country’s mobile market grew in December, with Huawei Technologies Co. growing fastest on the back of its new Mate 60 device lineup.
Weeks before the iPhone 15 went on sale in September, Huawei’s debut of the Mate 60 Pro — which runs on a new made-in-China system processor — spurred a patriotic fervor that reclaimed some of the customers it previously lost to Apple. Jefferies estimates Huawei shipped 35 million smartphones in 2023, with some supply constraints preventing that number from being larger.
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Apple saw a double-digit fall in volumes in December and Jefferies forecasts a similar decline for 2024. Discounts on Apple’s smartphone range increased last week across various online shopping portals, cutting into the average selling price without stimulating growth in volume.
Apple gained share in China after US sanctions cut Huawei off from the world’s leading chipmakers, such as Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., in 2020. The Shenzhen-based electronics firm’s return to competitiveness in the mobile market has seen it claw back market share, and it’s now developing its own software ecosystem to compete with Apple’s iOS and Alphabet Inc.’s Android.
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