According to a new report by Counterpoint, the smartphones shipments in China grew by a modest 4 percent annually during Q1 2017 (Jan-Mar) and declined a massive 20 percent sequentially.
The report says, Oppo, Vivo, and Huawei emerged at top three spots and extended their lead over Apple, Xiaomi and Samsung by a wide margin. Additionally, the Cupertino-based tech giant Apple's performance also become very seasonal, while Xiaomi and Samsung lost to Huawei (Honor) and the Oppo-Vivo onslaught, respectively.
Commenting on the results, Research Director, James Yan, highlighted, "We are seeing the Chinese holiday season quarter shipments remain soft, as most of the sell-in to the channel has now shifted to the end of December. Demand has reduced during the first quarter as most of the brands exited Q4 with higher channel inventory ahead of the Chinese New Year season, but the overall sell-through was relatively healthy, up 12 percent annually. However, the market continues to concentrate on a few players with the top five brands, out of hundreds of brands in the market, contributing to almost three-quarters of the market volume."
It said that the Chinese smartphone market saw a healthy sell-through in the first two months of the quarter with March sell-through slowing considerably as most of the effort was in re-building inventory after clearance in the first two months.
The report added that Chinese smartphone maker Vivo is adopting almost a similar, strategy like another Chinese brand Oppo, which helps the brand to get has also the position in the top three and its shipments is grew by 40 percent annually, while its Vivo's X9 series continues to remain popular, making Vivo the number one brand in the fast-growing $300-$400 segments in Q1 2017."
"The competition between Huawei, Oppo and Vivo continues to be fierce with the race for the top spot always up for grabs, especially in the new models launch quarter," Counterpoint further added.
Research Director, Neil Shah noted, "The mid-tier $100-$199 and $300-399 segments were fastest-growing segments, mainly driven by Huawei, Oppo and Vivo with strong offline plays. However, Apple has not been able to grow at the same pace in this segment which has capped its total-addressable-market to the 4000 RMB or $600+ wholesale segment. This is one of the key reasons that has put the brakes on Apple's growth in China."
Meanwhile, the report pointed out that, The premium segment $600+ or 4000rmb remained flat annually but shrunk 33 percent sequentially. Apple's share of this super-premium segment remains at 80 percent, with five out of the top ten model SKUs belonging to Apple.. Adding that we are seeing Huawei with its Mate 9 series and players such as Vivo trying to make some movement in this segment to attract premium Android users.