Apple utterly dominates the premium smartphone market in China with 85% share

According to preliminary data from the IDC Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, the China smartphone market declined 15.7% year-over-year (YoY) in 2017Q4 and 4.9% for the whole of 2017.

“In 2017, the minor upgrades that Chinese smartphone companies made to their offerings were not enough to move consumers to splurge on new models, resulting in a general slowdown in the market. The smaller players continued to suffer as the top five players grew their market share. A key space to look out for in the coming year would be how the top smartphone companies seek to tickle the fancy of consumers through their >US$200 products to drive consumer upgrades,” said Tay Xiaohan, Research Manager of IDC Asia/Pacific’s Client Devices team, in a statement.

Dominance of Apple in the >US$600 premium segment. Apple’s share increased YoY and QoQ. Although the iPhone X was available in short supply initially at launch in early November, the supply constraints for this model eased towards the end of the quarter. Apple’s ASP increased by 23.9% YoY in 2017Q4 largely due to the shipments of the iPhone X.

IDC: China Smartphone Market Declined by 15.7% YoY in 2017Q4 and 4.9% in 2017

Even though Apple’s shipments faced a slight YoY decline, it remains the only company that dominates the >US$600 premium segment in China. In 2017Q4, Apple alone made up 85% of the overall shipments in that segment. It has not been easy for the Chinese smartphone companies to drive higher volumes at higher prices but Apple is still clearly the market leader in this space.

Source: International Data Corporation

MacDailyNews Take: Android is, as it ever was, the poor man’s iPhone.

Apple takes the grain and leaves the also-rans with the chaff.

Apple leads in Indian premium smartphone market share, capturing 47% share in Q417 – January 31, 2018
Apple App Store users spent nearly double that of Google Play users in Q417 – January 26, 2018
Apple’s iOS continues to attract content apps first, despite smaller unit share – October 30, 2017
Bernstein: Google to pay Apple $3 billion this year to remain the default search engine on iPhones and iPads – August 14, 2017
Higher income U.S. states use Apple iPhones; lower income states use Samsung Galaxy phones – September 27, 2016
iOS users are worth 10X more than those who settle for Android – July 27, 2016
Apple’s App Store revenue nearly double that of Google’s Android – April 20, 2016
Poor man’s iPhone: Android on the decline – February 26, 2015
Study: iPhone users are smarter and richer than those who settle for Android phones – January 22, 2015
Why Android users can’t have the nicest things – January 5, 2015
iPhone users earn significantly more than those who settle for Android phones – October 8, 2014
Yet more proof that Android is for poor people – June 27, 2014
More proof that Android is for poor people – May 13, 2014
Android users poorer, shorter, unhealthier, less educated, far less charitable than Apple iPhone users – November 13, 2013
IDC data shows two thirds of Android’s 81% smartphone share are cheap junk phones – November 13, 2013
CIRP: Apple iPhone users are younger, richer, and better educated than those who settle for Samsung knockoff phones – August 19, 2013
iPhone users smarter, richer than Android phone users – August 16, 2011

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Dan K.” for the heads up.]


  1. The only problem is that the premium smartphone market in China is rather small. The iPhone is the big frog in the small pond. It’s good for Apple but Wall Street sees it as a bad situation (they believe that pond is forever drying up) so Apple shareholders get creamed. I’m completely amazed how Xiaomi recovered so quickly. A recovery like that is an exciting thing for shareholders. Wall Street believes Apple should have taken over that market that Xiaomi now has. What Xiaomi took in smartphone sales must represent a huge amount of lost iPhone sales for Apple.

    1. Apple has nearly the same unit share (about 20%) as the other four of the top five vendors in China. However, this share represents the top end of the market where all of the money is made.

      Apple likely has >40% revenue share and >90% profit share in the Chinese market.

      Also note that a huge number of pre-owned iPhones make up the lower end of the Chinese market. I would guess that Apple’s usage share in China is much higher than 20%, probably closer to 40%.

      Although these sales of ore-owned iPhones do not generate direct revenue to Apple, they generate users for Apple’s ecosystem and provide a source of paid upgrades for the next product cycle. These users also participate in the iOS ecosystem, generating services revenues.

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