SAN FRANCISCO: Apple lost more ground in the shrinking smartphone market last quarter, with a sales tracker saying the tech giant was pushed out of China's top three vendors.
Apple fell to fourth place in global cellphone sales, shipping 35.3 million iPhones in the second quarter compared to Oppo's 36.2 million units shipped, according to an IHS Markit report this week.
South Korean consumer electronics firm Samsung Titan remained at 23% of the market, sending 75.1 million mobile phones.
China's Huawei shipped 58.7 million smartphones to claim 18% of the market, IHS Markit calculated.
"Apple continues to face challenges with unit shipments, a trend that probably won't be resolved soon," IHS smartphone research and analysis director Jusy Hong said in an online post.
Although California-based Apple has aggressively promoted iPhones, current-generation mobile phones have "over-priced" prices, while models a few years ago are still costly compared to stock Android startups, the analyst reasoned.
Other mobile phone marketers such as Counterpoint Research and International Data Corporation have concluded that while iPhone shipments declined in the second quarter, Apple remained in third place as it comes to global shipments.
Huawei, meanwhile, has seen shipments of smartphones rise despite the general contract market and US-China trade tensions, market officials said.
Chinese rivals are rising
Huawei – considered the world leader in super-fast fifth generation, or 5G, equipment and the world's number two smartphone maker – has been blacklisted by US President Donald Trump amid suspicions that it is providing back-end service for Chinese intelligence. The company denies those allegations.
"The impact of the ban did not translate to fall shipments during this quarter, which will not happen in the future," Tarun Pathak, associate research director Tarun Pathak said in the firm's marketing report.
"In the coming quarters, Huawei is likely to be aggressive in its home market and record some growth there, but it will not be enough to offset the decline in its overseas shipments."
According to Counterpoint, according to China's global market share of Chinese firms Huawei, Oppo, Vivo, Xiaomi and Realme reached a new high of 42% in the second quarter.
"These brands have aggressively expanded outside of China and have achieved growth that offsets the saturation in their domestic market," said Varun Mishra, a counterpoint researcher.
"Their strategies and product portfolios are more in line with local needs and preferences, which is one of their main strengths."
Apple has been trying to relax its reliance on iPhone sales with a focus on services, digital content and related devices.
In the recently concluded quarter, Apple for the first time made less than half of its revenue from the iPhone, the company's longtime cash and profit driver.
Apple managed to increase its overall revenue, though modestly by 1%, to US $ 53.8 billion, even while iPhone revenue plunged nearly 12% in the April-June period.
The company has delivered a strong growth in digital content and services including Apply Payment and Apple Music, along with laptops and accessories like the Apple Watch and Air Pods.
Apple has stopped reporting sales on iPhone units, but CEO Tim Cook said during a wake-up call that there was a "strong customer response" to iPhone promotions and financial software.
Apple saw its sales improve in the core China market, which included a double-digit revenue stream of services caused by strong growth in the App Store there, according to the company.
The sale of iPhones in that country was boosted by factors including pricing moves by Apple, and exchange and financing of software, Cook said.