Apple’s iPhone sales problem isn’t limited to China

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iPhone sales
Critics say Apple needs to build more affordable iPhones.
Photo: Apple

China is not the only part of the world where Apple’s iPhone is losing market share to hard-charging Chinese brands.

Sales of the iPhone are falling off in Europe and Thailand, the second-biggest smartphone market in Southeast Asia, where shipments fell by more than 50 percent.

Apple’s dismal Q4 for 2018 doesn’t get any rosier in a report done by the research firm Canalys, which sheds further light on the growth of Chinese smartphone makers.

Smartphone shipments are down worldwide thanks to a market saturated with sophisticated handsets and users holding off on upgrades.

iPhone sales up against new rivals

Critics insist Apple has to reduce iPhone prices if it is to compete with Chinese companies, which are producing mid-range handsets full of features at relatively affordable prices.

Apple and rival Samsung saw shipments drop sharply in Thailand, where close to five million smartphones were shipped during the holiday quarter.

Oppo took the top spot with a growth of 69.8 percent, pushing Samsung into second place, whose year-on-year growth fell 36.1 percent.

Huawei and Vivo hold the third and fourth spots in the top five brands in Thailand. Huawei’s share of the market grew 73.4 percent while Vivo’s was 13 percent. Apple’s drop was 52.2 percent for fifth place and a market share of less than 9 percent.

In Europe, Samsung and Apple remain the top two brands, however, Huawei is expected to take over the No. 2 spot from Apple later this year. Apple’s Q4 shipments to Europe were down 6 percent while both Huawei and Xiaomi saw growth exceed 55 and 62 percent respectively.

With the Trump administration slapping tariffs on goods coming from China, top brands like Huawei and Xiaomi have set their sites on other markets more aggressively.

“The U.S. administration is causing Chinese companies to invest in Europe over the U.S.,” said Ben Stanton, a senior analyst for Canalys. “The European market is mature, and replacement rates have lengthened, but there is an opportunity for Chinese brands to displace the market incumbents. “Huawei and Xiaomi bring prince competition that has stunned their rivals.”

Chinese vendors now have 32 percent of Europe’s smartphone market, according to Canalys.