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iOS Drops to Lowest Share of China Smartphone Market in Nearly Three Years
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.