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Apple’s iPhone Plunges To A Distant Second In Chinese Smartphone Market

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) no longer has the top-selling smartphone in China, marking the first time it’s lost the top spot in nearly five years.

The development makes Apple “vulnerable” in the world’s second largest economy, said analysts at Counterpoint Research today. In fact, the iPhone is now a distant second in terms of sales in China:

The iPhone 6s sold 12 million units in 2016 or around 2 percent of all phones sold in China, behind the Oppo R9 – the flagship smartphone of the Chinese brand Oppo Electronics – which sold close to 17 million units, capturing 4 percent market share, according to Counterpoint Research. Oppo is one of the fastest-growing smartphone brands in China which has made its name through high-spec low-priced devices, being sold through bricks and mortar stores.

The last time Apple didn’t have the #1 selling smartphone in China was way back in 2012. Overall smartphone sales grew 6% year-over-year in China last year to about 465 million units.

Some of the downturn can be blamed on a weak product mix, with consumers around the globe holding out for the new iPhone 7’s release last fall. “Apple with slowing traction for its flagship iPhone 6S during last year saw its double-digit negative growth being somewhat offset by relatively healthy demand for the newer flagship iPhone 7 series in Q4 2016,” according to Counterpoint. “However, Apple still remains in a vulnerable position and there is higher expectation already with the next year flagship which is rumored to be substantial upgrade from both design and components perspective.”

Without question, the expectations have never been higher for a new device than they are for Apple’s rumored iPhone 8. The device, said to be coming later this year, will mark the 10th anniversary of the device’s initial release back in 2007.

If Apple is going to regain its top spot in China, the new iPhone better be all it’s cracked up to be.

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) was trading at $122.03 per share on Friday morning, up $0.09 (+0.07%). Year-to-date, AAPL has gained 5.36%, versus a 2.41% rise in the benchmark S&P 500 index during the same period.

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