Many analysts wondered aloud if Apple was pricing itself out of the Chinese smartphone market with premium devices like the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. Well, according to data from market research firm Kantar Worldpanel, those fears were unwarranted.
Apple’s iPhone family was able to grab a record 27.6 percent of the smartphone market in China during a three-month period ending in February, making Apple the number one smartphone OEM. The 4.7-inch iPhone 6 led the way with a 10.2 percent share of the market, which was enough to make it the best selling smartphone in China. Second place when to the Xiaomi RedMi Note, while the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus took third place.
"There has been a strong appetite for Apple’s products in urban China seen since the launch of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus and this has continued into Chinese New Year,” said Carolina Milanesi, chief of research at Kantar Worldpanel ComTech.
“Across key global markets Apple’s momentum generally continued from last month, with market share gains in all markets except the US and Japan.”
In the U.S., iOS market share dipped from 39.3 percent to 38.3 compared to the same period a year ago. Despite this slight slip in market share, the iPhone 6 was still the best selling smartphone in the country.
These figures, however, could change drastically in the coming months. Samsung just released its Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge smartphones to generally rave reviews and analysts are expecting blockbuster sales for the device worldwide (which marks a big change from last year’s disappointing Galaxy S5). And we can’t forget the HTC One M9 and the upcoming LG G4, which looks to add to the gains made by last year’s G3.
Looking at the overall picture, it’s interesting to note that that Apple has pushed its way to the top of the smartphone heap in China with two premium smartphones: the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. Likewise, Samsung appears to be on the verge of a sales rebound with the equally premium Galaxy S6 and the daring Galaxy S6 Edge. Naysayers, like Motorola President and COO Rick Osterloh have said that this strategy is wrong.
“We are going through one of those fascinating shifts where people are starting to realize that you don’t need to pay $600 for a top-tier phone to get a top-tier experience,” said Osterloh in a February interview. “We are an alternative to other premium brands at a much better value. We are very confident in our approach.”
It remains to be seen how long the “premium” approach will fly with consumers, but for now it appears to be working quite well.