IDC: Apple leads China smartphone as Samsung share collapses

Analyst house IDC has published its Q1 2015 China smartphone shipment numbers and they reveal some seismic shift in the world’s largest smartphone market.

Apple took first place in China for the first time, which is a remarkable achievement considering how much more iPhones cost than the competition and the relatively low disposable income of the average Chinese consumer.

By far the most significant casualty of Apple’s strength in China was Samsung, which saw its smartphone shipments in the country fall my more than half, in comparison with the same quarter a year ago. The Korean giant seems to be in a perfect storm of lacklustre product launches, Apple’s resurgence and the continued strength of local players such as Xiaomi in China.

Another factor that won’t be helping is that, after years of frantic growth, the Chinese smartphone market seems to finally be reaching a plateau. There has been a wholesale shift from feature phones to smartphones in recent years, but the proportion of smartphones among all subscribers must now be nearing 100%, so that growth driver no longer applies, and the market actually contracted for the first time.

“Smartphones are becoming increasingly saturated in China,” said Kitty Fok, Managing Director at IDC China. “China is oftentimes 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. 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.”

IDC’s China smartphone numbers are below, and have Xiaomi moving into second place, making it unlikely it has moved into third place globally, as we suggested in our Q1 2015 numbers. So a number closer to 16 million seems more likely for Xiaomi, leaving it in fifth place globally.

IDC China smartphone Q1 2015





IDC China smartphone growth


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