Consumer Electronics

Apple's China Problem

Apple iPhone
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24/7 Insights

  • Only a small portion of Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) revenue comes from China, a critical market.
  • The iPhone maker has a lot of competition there.

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) will announce earnings shortly. Investors will dig through revenue, earnings, and, especially, iPhone sales. The iPhone still brings in about half of Apple’s revenue. Although the results will not show up in the quarter about to be announced, the AI-powered iPhone 16 is critical to the company’s calendar-year figures. What will get less attention, but is nearly as important, is the revenue line Apple calls “Greater China.”

Several analysts have pointed out that it is hard to forecast how an AI-enabled smartphone will sell in China. Before that, the company has to show its overall global performance before the iPhone 16. While China is the world’s largest smartphone market by far, it was only 17% of Apple’s revenue, at $16.3 billion in the most recent quarter, down from $17.8 billion in the same quarter a year ago.

Early in the year, estimates were that its sales in China had fallen. Research firm Counterpoint said the drop was 24% year over year in the first six weeks. When Apple announced earnings, that figure seemed like an exaggeration.

The real challenge the company has not been able to overcome is that in a nation with over a billion smartphones, local companies, led by Oppo, Huawei, Xiaomi, and Vivo, have locked up a huge market share, which they have not given up. This alone will make it hard for Apple to show improved performance in a country where it has to.

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