Data from Canalys showed that China’s smartphone market has stagnated and smartphone shipments fell for the first time in 2017.
According to Canalys’ records, China’s smartphone shipments totaled 459 million units in 2017, down 4 percent year on year. In Q4 of the last year, shipments totaled 113 million, down 14 percent year on year.
However, not all handset makers were hit by market saturation. Huawei shipped 24 million units in the last quarter of 2017, up 9 percent.
Canalys data also showed that although OPPO and Vivo enjoyed growth in other Asian markets, the two vendors shipped 19 million units and 17 million units respectively in the Chinese market, down 16 percent and 7 percent year on year.
In addition, Apple shipped 13 million iPhones in China in the fourth quarter after the release of the iPhone X and iPhone 8/Plus, overtaking Xiaomi as the fourth top seller.
As the home market gradually becomes saturated, many Chinese mobile phone makers are aiming abroad. India and Indonesia, in particular, have become targets for Chinese handset makers.
In the fourth quarter of 2017, Xiaomi beat Samsung in the Indian market, becoming the number one mobile phone brand in India. Xiaomi has also begun expanding its markets in Spain, Mexico, Russia and parts of Africa.
For Chinese brands, the US is the most difficult market to enter. Xiaomi has been selling handset accessories in the US market for a long time but failed to move its smartphones. Xiaomi did express its willingness to enter the American market on multiple occasions.
Of all the Chinese smartphone brands that want to enter the US market, Huawei made the biggest move and suffered the hardest hit. AT&T, the second-largest American operator, cancelled a sales plan for Huawei’s Mate 10 Pro under pressure from the US government. It is rumored that Verizon might also cancel its partnership with Huawei for the same reason.
Huawei plans to sell the Mate 10 Pro unlocked phones in the US, and it has hired Gal Gadot, the star of Wonder Woman, as its chief experience officer. To succeed in the US market, co-operation with operators is still the best way to go.