This is the exact reason the iPhone 5c was conceived. And this is the exact opposite of the effect Apple would have hoped it would have.
Figures have shown that in 2013 Samsung was China’s most popular smartphone manufacturer, whilst Apple could only crack the number five spot on the list of the world’s biggest potential smartphone market.
Numbers two through four on the list were all Chinese companies: Lenovo, Huawei and Coolpad respectively. The domestic manufacturers made the most of their natural inroads to the Chinese market and profited handsomely from the incredible 21.9% sequential fourth-quarter growth in smartphone users. The annual growth figure was a more modest 15.9%, perhaps an indication that China’s smartphone market is finally growing as saturated as the West’s.
As for Apple’s relative failure, blame quite blatantly rests with the poor sales of the iPhone 5c, as well as Apple’s delayed relationship with China Mobile – the world’s largest carrier only started selling the iPhone in January.
It’s been a well-documented trend that China’s consumer base lean heavily towards low-spec, low-cost handsets, which Apple aimed to cater towards with their 5c handset. However prices were still comparatively exorbitant for a ‘budget’ smartphone, meaning that it ended up as somewhat of a middle-of-the-road handset – a market as limited in China as it is everywhere else.
Apple will be looking eagerly forward to the next quarter’s results already, as their new China Mobile relationship combined with Chinese New Year sales will hopefully provide them with a shot in the arm.