Chinese iPhone sales up 6%, though many skeptical about future

New market intelligence data reveals that Chinese iPhone sales were up 6% year-on-year during the period in and around the Chinese New Year.

While some are pointing to this as a sign that 2023 will be the post-pandemic year of recovery for the smartphone market globally, others are skeptical about how long the trend will last …

Counterpoint tracked smartphone sales in China for the country’s holiday season, which centers around the Chinese New Year.

At the start of 2023, the sales quickly increased week over week to reach above 7 million before the week the Chinese New Year season started.

In four out of five weeks, the sales stayed above 6 million, a level seldom reached in 2022 when the pandemic haunted China’s cities from time to time. The average weekly sales during the period were 6.7 million units, much higher than the average of 5.5 million units in 2022. In January, the monthly sales were flat compared to the previous year’s same month, which recorded the highest sales in 2022, but sequentially grew more than 40%.

On Chinese iPhone sales, Apple held its position as market leader, and enjoyed some growth from the same period in 2022.

Apple remained China’s biggest OEM in January in terms of sales share and its sales increased about 6% YoY, according to preliminary data.

Some are suggesting that we’re finally past the impacts of the pandemic on both supply and demand, and that this year will be a period of recovery for the smartphone sector. However, many are skeptical, believing that this is just a temporary, seasonal blip.

Some attribute this more to the pent-up demand from December and the earlier-than-usual arrival of the Chinese New Year season rather than the substantial improvement on the demand side.

Supporting this idea is the fact that many distributors are being cautious about their wholesale purchases, having previously been stuck with very high levels of inventory just sitting on their shelves.

However, Counterpoint is somewhat optimistic, believing that the end of China’s failed COVID Zero policy will mean less likelihood of constraints on the supply side. It says it’s sticking to its view that the smartphone market for 2023 will grow year-on-year, though it does expect this growth to be in the low single digits.

Apple remains hard at work on reducing its manufacturing dependence on China, but the most recent report from India suggests things aren’t going well.

Photo: Apple Changsha/Apple

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