Cheaper Chinese smartphones gain ground

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Apple and Samsung are fast losing share in the smartphone market to a group of Chinese upstart ­rivals that now account for nearly a quarter of all global sales.

New figures from Gartner, the research group, suggest that to maintain growth Apple and Samsung are having to rely on replacement sales to existing customers in mature markets, as new users in emerging markets turn to cheaper Chinese rivals.

Gartner research director Anshul Gupta said consumers in China and emerging markets in the Asia-Pacific no longer saw the need to spend $US800 ($1000) on an iPhone now that there were high-quality alternatives available at less than half the price.

“For Apple it’s no longer about targeting first-time, entry-level customers, it’s about capturing the replacement market. The trick for them will be in finding ways to keep users of the iOS operating system tied to Apple,” he said.

While global smartphone sales rose 9.1 per cent to 380 million units in the first quarter of 2017, Samsung sales fell 3.1 per cent to 79 million. This was the third consecutive quarter of declining sales for the Korean company, which has 20.7 per cent of the global market, from 23.3 per cent in 2016.

Apple’s iPhone sales were virtually flat in the first three months of the year, up 0.7 per cent to 52 million units. Its market share fell from 14.8 per cent to 13.7 per cent.

Huawei, founded by Ren Zhengfei, the Chinese businessman, has never been so close to Apple, with smartphone sales of 34 million units in the first quarter.

Oppo, a firm started by China’s BBK Electronics, is catching up. Its first-quarter sales rose 94.5 per cent to 31 million units.

By ALEXANDRA FREAN

The Times | The Australian

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