Smartphone deliveries to China declined by 4 per cent on an annual basis in Q1 to 98.8 million handsets due to a build-up of unsold handsets, according to a report from the BBC that cited data from research firm IDC.
This represents the first drop in six years and translates to a heftier fall of 8 per cent on a quarterly basis after China overtook the United States to become the world’s biggest smartphone market in 2011.
“China is often thought of as an emerging market but the reality is that the vast majority of phones sold in China today are smartphones, similar to other mature markets like the US, UK, Australia, and Japan,” said IDC China’s Managing Director Kitty Fok.
“Just like these markets, convincing existing users as well as feature phone users to upgrade to new smartphones will now be the key to further growth in the China market,” added Fok.
Apple surpassed China’s Xiaomi to become the top smartphone seller in the country during the first quarter as Chinese clients were drawn to the wider screens on the latest iPhone models, noted IDC. Consequently, the US tech giant secured 14.7 per cent of the market versus Xiaomi’s 13.7 per cent.
Looking ahead, the Chinese smartphone market is expected to be flat in 2015. Given the gloomy forecast, local handset makers will likely focus on expanding in emerging markets like India and Southeast Asia. Xiaomi is also looking to increase its presence in overseas markets.