According to TrendForce, the shipments of Chinese brand smartphones reached a new high in 2014 with a total shipment of 453 million units, which translated to an annual growth of 54.8% and accounted for nearly 40% of the worldwide shipments. The formidable rise of Chinese brands was an important development of the year. AVANTI, a Chinese consumer research division of TrendForce, recently released a smartphone market survey that shows domestic brands in China are becoming more appealing and are in a position to catch up with top brands like Samsung and Apple.
Based on AVANTI’s findings, in 2014 Samsung managed to retain its leading position among the Chinese consumers in terms of brand image, visibility, appeal, and user percentage, but there were noticeable slides from the third to fourth quarter. Samsung’s brand appeal had already been surpassed by Apple’s iPhone in the first quarter in 2014 and stayed in the second place since then. On the other hand, Apple’s user percentage growth became more significant in the fourth quarter when iPhone6/6 Plus was launched, putting the pressure on the declining Samsung.
Compared with its Chinese competitors, iPhone has greater brand loyalty than them, but the growth of its brand loyalty in 2014 was far smaller than the Chinese brands and showed signs of slowdown. In 2014, Chinese brands Xiaomi and Huawei experienced steady growths in both image and visibility in the domestic market. Xiaomi even managed to best Samsung in the brand loyalty rankings for the fourth quarter, taking the second place.
Chinese brands will start to pick up in their domestic market in 2Q15, but expect diminished growths throughout the year
TrendForce’s smartphone analyst Henry Chung said with domestic telecom companies cutting subsidies since the second half of 2014 and with the influence of 3G/4G device upgrade cycle, Chinese brands are looking at rising inventory level and weaker sales in China market. The current inventory level adjustment process in the entire supply chain is expected to last through the first quarter of 2015. If the excess inventory is effectively cleared, steady quarterly growth will resume in the second quarter at the earliest. TrendForce projects that Chinese brand smartphone shipments worldwide are estimated to reach 531 million units with an annual growth of 17.2% in 2015. While the projected growth pales in comparison with the above 50% growth in 2014, Chinese brands are likely to represent six of the 2015 top ten smartphone makers in terms of shipments.