China Insights

‘Magnificent Seven’ of China’s smartphone industry in 2017

Martin Guo

Editor-in-Chief, Kantar China Insights

Mobile 09.03.2017 / 10:20

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As OPPO, Vivo and Meizu are expected to join the already crowded centre of stage, the smartphone market of China will likely enter the age of ‘Magnificent Seven’.

According to Kantar Worldpanel ComTech’s recent top 10 best-selling smartphone model ranking, iPhone 6s was the most popular model in urban China with a 5.1% sales share, followed by iPhone 6s Plus (3.1%) and Huawei Mate 8 (2.7%).

Compared with the United States, United Kingdom, Spain and France, whose data were released at the same time, Chinese market was very fragmented:

1. The top 10 models came from 4.5 brands: Huawei (including Huawei and its separate smartphone brand Honor), Apple, Xiaomi and OPPO; while Samsung and Apple dominated the top 10 list in US, UK and France;

2. The combined share of sales of the top 10 models were only 25.5%. That figure was about 31% in France and Spain, 46.8% in US and as high as 51.6% in UK. 

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Kantar Worldpanel ComTech carries out monthly panel surveys among Chinese urban mobile phone users to monitor the market share changes of various brands. In China, the panel size is 22,000. Panellists were recruited from tier-1 to 5 cities and each year more than 260,000 surveys were conducted. The nature of the research methodology means it can cover the influence of smartphones sold in other countries ended up in China and avoid the confusion caused by unsold phones stocked at distributors’ warehouses.

“It is natural that iPhone 6s and 6s Plus were higher on the ranking because they’d been in the market longer. iPhone 7 was only available in the last 3 ½ months of 2016,” said Lauren Guenveur, Global Consumer Insight Director of Kantar Worldpanel ComTech. “iPhone 7 has brought growth back the brand, but Apple remains down year on year and have not been able to recapture the top brand spot from Huawei.”

In the US, Honor has been launched as a brand separated to Huawei, but in China they were seen as one brand. At the end of 2016, Huawei is the solid No.1 brand in sales share in China.

It is also worth noticing that in Spain’s top 10 best-selling model ranking, Huawei’s P8 Lite ranked No.1, P9 Lite No.6 and Y635 No.7.

The once sought-after smartphone brand Xiaomi was in the downward spiral last year. Its total sales market share was 17.4%, ranking third in brands’ market share ranking. It has only one model, Red Mi Noted 3 (2.4%), in the top 10 model ranking with a market share of 20.4%. Xiaomi brand used to control 25.9% of all smartphone sales when it was at its zenith in 2014.

OPPO and Vivo are two fast-rising stars. “I would focus on Oppo becoming a serious force in urban China, surpassing Samsung to become the 4th largest brand, and continue to make ear-on-year gains. We can expect them to continue this growth through 2017,” Lauren said.

“If you ask me what my prediction is for the smartphone market in 2017, I would say: look out for OPPO, Vivo and Meizu,” she concluded.

Source: Kantar Worldpanel

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