China’s smartphone market slumps to 10-year low in 2022 – TechCrunch
After a decade of frenzied growth, China’s smartphone market is experiencing a slowdown as COVID-19 rattles the world’s second-largest economy.
The country’s smartphone shipments fell 14% year-over-year in 2022, hitting their lowest level in a decade, according to research firm Counterpoint. It was also the first time handset sales in China fell below 300 million units in a decade, according to Canalys. Even in December, which has historically seen seasonal jumps in sales, China saw a 5% decline in quarter-over-quarter smartphone shipments.
The strict three-year zero-COVID policy that has disrupted businesses and undermined consumer confidence, coupled with macroeconomic headwinds, has ended China’s years of double-digit growth. The unrest escalated when the abrupt easing of COVID-19 restrictions in early December led to a surge in cases, adding further strain to the flagging economy. Last year, China’s GDP grew 3%, its lowest in decades other than 2020.
Alibaba’s annual trade windfall in November offered some clues about China’s weakening purchasing power. The event, which is often compared to Black Friday and seen as a gauge of consumer appetite in the country, did not disclose its final 2022 revenue for the first time since its inception in 2009.
There was a winner in this dark time. Apple ended the year with a record 18% market share thanks to “aggressive promotions” and “resilient” demand in the high-end segment in China, according to Canalys. Its rise also coincides with Huawei’s fall in the high-end handset market since US sanctions cut off its access to high-end chipsets.
Apple’s relationship with China remains delicate. The country is not only one of its biggest markets, but has been the manufacturing backbone that has created the most valuable business in the world today. In recent years, however, COVID-related disruptions, such as a rare protest by workers at a major Foxconn factory that delayed production, prompted the hardware juggernaut to rethink its supply chain strategy. The Wall Street Journal reported in early December that Apple was looking to relocate some of its supply chains out of China to other parts of Asia, including Vietnam and India.
India, in particular, is set to play a bigger role in Apple’s supply chains as the company plans to expand its manufacturing capacity in the country to produce 25% of all iPhones by 2025. , according to analysts at JP Morgan.
In the fourth quarter, the top smartphone brands in China by shipment were Apple, Vivo, Oppo, Honor (which spun off from Huawei following US sanctions on the parent company) and Xiaomi.
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