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macrumors bot
Original poster
Apr 12, 2001

Apple's iOS has dropped to its lowest share of the smartphone market in urban China since July 2014, according to new data collected and shared by Kantar Worldpanel. Today's report specifically details smartphone shares around the world for the three months ending in February 2017. In total, devices running iOS dropped 8.9 percentage points from the same year-ago quarter, receding from 22.1 percent of the China market to 13.2 percent.

Apple rival Android remains the dominant force in China at 86.4 percent of the smartphone market in the country, growing 9.3 percentage points year-over-year. Although the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus remained the top selling devices in China, Apple has trouble competing with local vendors -- like Oppo and Vivo -- who produce cheaper smartphones at a massive rate that are far easier to obtain by the Chinese consumer.

"In the three-month period ending February 2017, iOS accounted for 13.2% of smartphone sales in urban China, a decline of 8.9 percentage points from 22.1% a year earlier. This marks iOS' lowest share since the three-month period ending July 2014," reported Tamsin Timpson, Strategic Insight Director at Kantar Worldpanel ComTech Asia. "That said, iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus remained the top selling devices in the region, accounting for 8% of smartphone sales. By comparison, iPhone 6s and 6s Plus accounted for 14% of smartphone sales in the three months ending February 2016."
Not much has changed for either iOS or Android in the United States since Kantar's last report, although the latter OS has continued to see a decline in market share throughout December, January, and February. Android has dropped three percentage points when compared to the same year-ago quarter, now accounting for 55.9 percent of the U.S. smartphone market, while iOS has grown by 3.7 percentage points year-over-year to take 42 percent of the market in the U.S.

As in China, iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus remained the top-selling smartphones in the U.S., which the devices have been since Kantar's report on the three months ending November 2016. Kantar's analysts cited hope that Google Pixel "might soften the drop in Android sales" that happen annually around every iPhone launch -- and which dropped even more dramatically last year because of the Note7 -- but the Pixel doesn't appear to have picked up the slack for the Android market in the U.S.

In terms of overall growth, iOS saw its biggest percentage point increase in the quarter happen in Great Britain, growing 4.5 percentage points year-over-year. In most of Europe's big five markets -- Great Britain, Germany, France, Italy, and Spain -- Apple has done well to boost sales of iOS devices, with France housing the biggest growth for the Apple operating system over the holidays. Outliers still remain, like Spain's 1.7 percentage point dip in today's report.

Kantar's report also looked forward to the rest of 2017, admitting that the three months ending in February is a "challenging time" to report on due to its awkward middle ground proximity between the holiday season last year, and upcoming announcements at events like WWDC in the summer.
"The February period is always a challenging time to report on consumer behaviour and plans, since many people put purchases on hold following the holidays, waiting for the latest phone announcements from Mobile World Congress," Guenveur said. "The much-anticipated March 29 announcement of the Samsung Galaxy S8, combined with the somewhat unexpected launch of the (PRODUCT) RED iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, and the capacity upgrade to iPhone SE a week before that, may mean that the remainder of Q1 and Q2 could yield some interesting, even unpredictable, shifts in the market."
Apple CEO Tim Cook has remained vocal in his optimism about the company's presence -- and future -- in China, mentioning in an earnings call last year that, "We may not have the wind at our backs that we once did, but it's more stable than the common view of it." More recently, Cook went into even more detail about Apple's China plans, stating that, "We're not just someone who's here to access the market," and that the company intends to bolster its presence in the country through providing jobs and improving people's standard of living.

Article Link: iOS Drops to Lowest Share of China Smartphone Market in Nearly Three Years


macrumors 6502
Oct 5, 2003
So is Apple selling less iPhones year over year or is the Chinese smart phone market expanding with people that would not have a smart phone acquiring a free android phone?


macrumors 601
Oct 7, 2012
Not surprising, China has some very cheap android phones. It's hard to compete when you're trying to sell the most expensive option.

These cheap android phones are available in usa too. I suspect it is because there is no iphone upgrade program in China.


macrumors 601
Jun 22, 2006
The thick of it
It's amazing to me that Windows phones are still clinging to life in Europe.

I'm not at all surprised that Android still dominates the smartphone landscape. When multiple manufacturers are making multiple devices running that system on cheap phones, naturally that's the system that will be prevalent.


Apr 6, 2010
Not hugely surprising considering the average wage in china although increasing is still low compared to the USA and Western Europe. People probably just don't upgrade their iPhones as often.


Feb 11, 2008
I think average income has something to do with it too, it's a lot lower than the USA

Maybe it's just a phone for many..... 90% of the functionality at 20% price.

I suspect the "elitist" image of the iPhone has worn off, there are so many in the wild these days , nothing special about it anymore. Apple did themselves no favours with the 6 design running three years, for many it's about bling....and when people cannot tell the difference from a 6 to 7, people will jump Android to show off. Just a theory . And why the Samsung S8 is getting good feedback


macrumors 6502a
Jun 13, 2009
I bet this has to do more with the fact China ranks about 90th on the list of per capita income. The average family income in China is less than $5,000 per year. As a result the percentage of families who can afford a $650+ phone is comparatively small to a country like the U.S. where family income is five times higher.

You had an initial surge when the iPhone was originally sold officially in China a couple of years ago, but now most everyone that wants one and can afford one has bought one. The number of Chinese who can upgrade every year or two is going to be much lower than the U.S. so a retrenchment is not unexpected.

What this does go to show is that China is not the vast, untapped potential of Apple customers that was predicted. There is a peak and China reached it rather quickly.
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macrumors G3
Nov 23, 2011
What this does go to show is that China is not the vast, untapped potential of Apple customers that was predicted. There is a peak and China reached it rather quickly.

True, but when the iPhone 8 is released that'll sell like hotcakes in China, no matter what it looks like or costs (providing it's called the 8).
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macrumors member
Jun 2, 2014
This all (or for the vast majority of reasons) comes down to money as well as average income for these countries. Not to mention disposable income... Several of these countries listed have an average income where it is difficult to sustain day-to-day life and an iPhone or any premium smartphone for that matter is simply superfluous. Great Britain and the United States on the other hand, where nearly half of people own and use an iOS device, that disposable income is present and for some is much much greater than those other parts of the world. (This is not to mention that some people in Britain and the US buy items that they cannot or should not afford as well ;))

now i see it

macrumors G3
Jan 2, 2002
The beginning of the smartphone era was a different time. iPhone really was the device to get. But nowadays, other manufacturers have caught up and sell their devices for a lot cheaper. All smartphones do pretty much the same thing now, so the iPhone really is more of luxury smartphone than a device for the masses. Luxury has a place in this world, but it will never be the most popular.


macrumors 603
Nov 4, 2008
It’s about time that somebody comes along and says that market share is unimportant isn’t it? Anyhow, hopefully this is the wake up call that Apple need.
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macrumors 6502a
Jun 14, 2010
This is mostly due to Chinese government interference. Everyone would buy Apple, if they were able to and had the money!


macrumors 68000
Jul 3, 2008
The only presence of Apple in China I could think of is their production. People who says China is an important consumer wise because they have the biggest population in the world. There is a market for rich people but not for regular citizens. Apple products pricing is not ideal for country like China if they have to pay all their income for 3 months just to buy an iPhone. Stop acting like other countries is like us, most of their citizens cannot afford an iPhone. Even in the US some people already thinks Apple products are overpriced. Android phones works just fine for everybody else and they still have leftovers for their meals a day.


macrumors 6502
Oct 1, 2014
Not surprising, China has some very cheap android phones. It's hard to compete when you're trying to sell the most expensive option.
When Tim Cook and company get on stage and keep bragging about China and how well they're doing in China, it is pretty embarrassing to see Apple losing steam rather than growing like they try to sell when on stage.
I think average income has something to do with it too, it's a lot lower than the USA
But then you have countries like Germany or France where income is high and yet Android is still much more prevalent.
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