Apple reclaims its crown as China’s top maker

Apple regained its place as the biggest smartphone seller in China in the last quarter of 2021 six years after losing it, when US sanctions heavily penalized national champion Huawei, according to a study.

Despite a declining market in China, the Apple brand saw its market share for phones jump to 23% over the October-December period, says the firm Counterpoint in a study published Wednesday .

The American manufacturer thus became the leading smartphone seller in the Asian country at the end of 2021, dethroning the local competitor Vivo.

A year earlier, Apple held a 16% market share and was fourth, outpaced by Chinese brands including Huawei, then leader (23%).

This is the first time since 2015 that Apple has regained its crown in China, according to Counterpoint, which does not specify the number of devices sold.

“Apple’s extraordinary performance is linked to a mixture of pricing strategy and a move upmarket by Huawei”, which built its success by initially offering products at affordable prices, notes the analyst from Counterpoint, Mengmen Zhang.

“The new iPhone 13 carried this success, due to a relatively low price in China when it was released” in September, said Ms. Zhang, adding that Huawei’s decline is linked to “US sanctions”.

Huawei has been at the center of the Sino-American rivalry for several years, against the backdrop of a trade and technology war between the two leading world powers.

Huawei had found itself in the crosshairs of the former administration of Donald Trump, who accused it, without however providing evidence, of potential espionage for the benefit of Beijing.

In 2019, Washington had placed the group on a blacklist to prevent it from acquiring American technologies, essential for its products.

Joe Biden’s administration has maintained these restrictions.

Penalized by these sanctions, Huawei announced in December a turnover for 2021 down by almost a third over one year, to 634 billion yuan (87.4 billion euros).