China has always been a strange market in the world. Foreign companies regularly find it difficult to grab a foothold in the Chinese market. This has been further evidenced by the fact that the top five smartphone brands in China compromise only one foreign brand. And no, the South Korean giant Samsung is not that sole foreign company.
For the calendar quarter ending in October; Huawei, Xiaomi, Apple, Vivo, and Oppo made it to the top five smartphone brands in the country by market share. These five brands accounted for 91% of the overall market. That’s a huge surge from 79% during the same time a year earlier. Well established companies like Samsung and Lenovo have really struggled in front of Huawei and Xiaomi. Samsung accounted for only 2.2% market share in China and is deteriorating, according to a report from Kantar Wordpanel.
Apple, however, has made a slow but steady progress in the Chinese market. The company has maintained its status as a premium luxury brand in urban China. Apple’s share has edged up by 0.5% in the latest quarter to reach 17.4%. Notably, Apple released its premium device iPhone X in China in the month of November only. So this might again boost its share in China, come to the end of January.
For Samsung, it’d be really difficult to beat out the local brands, given how diverse each company’s strategy for success in China has been. Huawei has focused primarily on urban China while Oppo and Vivo have prioritized rural China with a huge number of retail outlets all over the country. Xiaomi has made the online market its own and is now expanding its retail presence in the country. Samsung will have to compete Apple as the luxury phone’s brand in China. However, this competition will once again benefit the local companies. If any foreign company will ever win the Chinese market, only time will tell.