[News] Apple Faces Headwinds in China Market, Rumored to See a Potential Double-Digit Sales Decline in 2024

2024-01-10 Consumer Electronics editor

Due to consumer spending pressures this year, the smartphone market is not as robust as before. With Apple facing strained relations with China, market sentiment continues to be pessimistic about Apple’s prospects.

Recently, citing from a report from Jefferies Financial Group’s analyst, Bloomberg stated that the sales volume of Apple’s latest products in China is expected to decline by 30% compared to last year in 2024, potentially experiencing a double-digit decline for the whole year.

The Wall Street Journal once reported that last year, the Chinese government announced its restriction on officials using iPhones, with at least eight provinces instructing officials to cease using iPhones.

This restriction not only applies to government agencies but also extends to state-owned enterprises, including large entities in China’s power generation, harbor construction, mining, manufacturing, education, and investment markets.

In addition to political restrictions, Apple is also facing pressure from Chinese competitor Huawei. Analysts from Jefferies Financial Group previously stated that sales of Huawei’s Mate 60 Pro surpassed the iPhone 15.

In 2023, Huawei held the highest market share in the Chinese smartphone market, growing by approximately 6% compared to the same period in 2022, while Apple’s market share in China declined by 4% year-on-year.

Patriotic Enthusiasm Supports Local Smartphone Brands

Driven by “patriotic enthusiasm,” according to Jefferies’ estimation, Huawei’s smartphone shipments last year reached 35 million units, falling below the expected 40 million, possibly due to constraints in component supplies.

The Huawei Mate 60 Pro features a SMIC-manufactured 7nm processor tailor-made for the domestic market. Huawei continues to develop and expand its HarmonyOS operating system, competing with iOS and Android.

Yet, according to MacDailyNews, Huawei has allegedly exaggerated the capabilities of the Mate 60. In reality, its processor specifications lag behind Apple by several generations.

The “Kirin 9000S” is a 7nm chip, with a Geekbench 6 single-core score of 1,267 and a multi-core score of 3,533. In comparison, Apple’s A17 Pro features a 3nm chip, scoring 2,902 in Geekbench 6 single-core and 7,221 in multi-core tests.

The Huawei Mate 60 falls behind even Apple’s entry-level third-generation iPhone SE. The latter is equipped with the 5nm A15 Bionic chip from September 2021, scoring 2,237 in Geekbench 6 single-core and 5,173 in multi-core tests.

Smartphone Price Reduction Fails to Boost Sales

To salvage the market, iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max witnessed a substantial 16% price reduction on the Pinduoduo e-commerce platform during the first week of 2024, with similar discount levels observed in December. However, analysts from Jefferies believe that these discounts will not stimulate sales growth.

As iPhone sales constitute approximately 52% of Apple’s total revenue, China has consistently represented Apple’s most crucial international market.

In the face of the competitive pressure in the Chinese market this year, TrendForce analysis suggests that Huawei’s successful sales will exert sales pressure on Apple, which also targets the high-end market in China.

Therefore, TrendForce is not optimistic about the production forecast for Apple in 2024, estimating the annual production volume to be around 215-225 million, slightly lower or flat compared to the previous year.

In terms of regional market operations, Apple continues to increase its production share in India, aiming to offset the lost market share in China through the growth of the high-end market in India. It is estimated that by 2025, the production share in India will further increase to 25-30%.

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(Photo credit: Huawei)

Please note that this article cites information from TechNewsThe Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg