Apple Inc. achieved its highest-ever market share in China in the fourth quarter, when it was the top-selling vendor there for the first time in six years, research firm Counterpoint Research reported on Wednesday.
The milestone coincided with the release of the iPhone 13, and amid otherwise stagnant demand for handsets as chief rival Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd’s market share declined.
Apple’s smartphone market share reached 23 percent, a record for the brand.
Its unit sales volume grew 32 percent year-on-year in the quarter, while total smartphone sales in China fell 9 percent, according to Counterpoint.
The company navigated pandemic-related supply chain issues better than rivals at the end of 2021, likely helping the iPhone maker surpass Wall Street revenue growth targets of 6 percent, some analysts estimate.
Apple, is set to post quarterly earnings on Thursday.
Wall Street analysts expect Apple to post about $118.7 billion in revenue, representing 6.48 percent year-over-year growth, and quarterly earnings per share of $1.89, according to Eikon data as of Tuesday.
Apple posted a rare revenue miss in the fiscal quarter ended Sept. 25, which Chief Executive Tim Cook attributed to pandemic-related supply constraints and manufacturing disruptions that together cost the company an estimated $6 billion in sales.
Counterpoint analyst Mengmeng Zhang cited a lower starting price in China and the impact of US sanctions against Huawei, Apple’s main competitor in the high-end segment, as factors.
Apple last ranked as China’s top-selling smartphone brand in late 2015, just after the company launched its iPhone 6, which attracted Chinese consumers with their large screens.
In 2021 as a whole, Apple ranked as China’s third best-selling smartphone brand with 16 percent of the market.
Vivo and Oppo, two Android handset brands under the privately-owned BBK Electronics, ranked first and second with 22 percent and 21 percent respectively.
Year on year, Apple’s unit sales rose 47 percent while Huawei’s tumbled 68 percent. Overall smartphone sales in China fell 2 percent, according to Counterpoint.
Lengthening upgrade cycles have presented an ongoing dilemma for Chinese smartphone brands looking to maintain growth at home, as consumers delay purchasing new devices.
A global chip and component shortage has meanwhile rattled the entire electronics industry, affecting pricing and margins for all hardware makers.
Apple, the first company worth $3 trillion has been losing value along with the broader stock market.
Apple stock has fallen 10 percent this month and the S&P 500 index has dropped 9 percent.