Apple won’t crack the Chinese market with the iPhone 7

Fierce competition from Chinese companies offering great phones at cheap prices makes the populous region harder than ever to succeed in.

Response to the iPhone 7 has been mixed. It looks to be a great phone, but the incremental nature of its advances from the excellent iPhone 6S have left some underwhelmed.

It’ll sell millions in the US, Europe, Australia and the rest of Apple’s established markets. But what about China? Apple has desperately been trying to crack open the world’s largest phone market, and experts say the iPhone 7 doesn’t look poised to do that.

“It won’t move the needle [in China],” says Counterpoint Research analyst Neil Shah of Apple’s market share.

He explains that Apple has intense competition from local brands such as Huawei, Oppo and Vivo. Following Samsung and Apple, those are three brands that round out the global top five, according to Counterpoint Research. It’s significant that Oppo and Vivo earned their rankings almost entirely through sales in China.

“These homegrown brands have already risen to popularity with their innovations…at a price point at least 25-30 percent lower than the iPhone’s,” Shah said.

The iPhone 7’s water resistance and bigger battery life are improvements. But Shah says they’re not as significant to Chinese buyers as Oppo’s fast charging, high-res selfie cameras, and Vivo’s audio-centric tech. The iPhone 7 Plus will house a dual camera, but that’s something Huawei already did on its P9.



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