New iPhones help Apple capture record smartphone share in China

Apple Store West Lake China iPhone kid 001

Apple’s been making some impressive strides in China, its second-biggest market by revenue and home to a population of 1.33 billion people.

On the weight of strong sales of the 4.7-inch iPhone 6 and 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus, the Cupertino firm has now hit an all-time high share, with iOS accounting for a record 27.6 percent volume share of the Chinese smartphone market versus 17.9 percent a year ago.

Kantar data for the three months ending in February proves the iPhone 6 has remained the country’s top-selling smartphone in the period. It’s grown from 9.5 percent of sales recorded in the previous period ending in January to 10.2 percent ending in February. Xiaomi’s iPhone 6 Plus lookalike, the RedMI Note, took the second spot, followed by Apple’s 5.5-inch phablet-class iPhone 6 Plus, which grabbed the third place.

“There has been a strong appetite for Apple’s products in urban China seen since the launch of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus and this has continued into Chinese New Year,” said Carolina Milanesi, chief of research at Kantar.

And this is where Apple’s multi-year patience in working out a landmark deal with China Mobile is starting to pay off in a big way.

Apple’s subscribers on China Mobile, the world’s top wireless carrier by user base, accounted for a whopping 59 percent of the 27.6 percent volume share recorded by iOS in the latest period.

Kantar China smartphone share 20150402

“Across key global markets Apple’s momentum generally continued from last month, with market share gains in all markets except the US and Japan,” Milanesi said.

You can explore Kantar’s data on a per-region basis using the interactive chart embedded below. Note that the big five European markets include the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy and Spain.

Across Europe, Android’s share declined by 2.9 percentage points year-on-year to 67.6 percent while iOS rose by 2.9 percentage points.

In the United Kingdom, iPhone 6 has retained its top spot, followed by Samsung’s Galaxy S5. In Europe, buyers were mainly attracted to the iPhone 6 for its reliability and durability (48 percent) and design (44 percent).

Over in the United States, iOS lost half-a-percentage point of smartphone share versus the same period a year ago, dropping from 39.3 percent down to 38.8 percent.

The iPhone 6 has remained the best selling smartphone among US buyers, who cited its screen size (45 percent), LTE capability (44 percent) as well as the reliability and durability of the device (43 percent) as the key purchase drivers.

When it comes to the iPhone 6 Plus buyers, seven out of ten device owners emphasized the handset’s 5.5-inch screen as their purchase driver.

iPhone 6 Plus (in hand 003)

Needless to say, Apple’s gains in China and elsewhere will be short-lived. We’re in the middle of the iPhone refresh cycle, new flagship devices from Samsung, HTC, LG and Huawei will be shipping from April and spring-summer is typically a weak period for iPhone sales.

On the other hand, with the vast majority of Android devices showing little differentiation, especially on the OS side, it’s my personal opinion that Apple remains well poised to stand out in the crowd thanks to the power of its ecosystem and differentiating features in iOS.

Source: Kantar Worldpanel ComTech