China has suffered a decline in smartphone sales for the first time ever

Tyrone Stewart

Chinese people mobilesThe Chinese smartphone market suffered its first-ever annual decline in shipments in 2017, with the number of handsets shipped falling by four per cent from 2016 to 459m units.

The overall decline can be blamed partly on China having one of its worst year-on-year performances in Q4 2017, seeing shipments slump 14 per cent to under 113m units, according to market analyst Canalys.

“The declining Chinese market will have a detrimental impact on those Chinese vendors that have been heavily relying on their home market,” said Hattie He, research analyst at Canalys. “It will affect their cashflow and profitability, limiting overseas expansion and bringing into question future survival. The threat to vendors such as Gionee and Meizu is now closer than ever.”

Despite the overall market struggling, Huawei continued to strengthen its position as China’s number one smartphone maker. It saw shipments grow by nine per cent in the fourth quarter of 2017, shipping over 24m units and achieving its best-ever quarter, to bring its total smartphones sold to 90m for the whole year.

On the other hand, Oppo and Vivo – second and third in China’s smartphone market – saw shipments fall by 16 per cent and seven per cent respectively in Q4 2017, while Apple overtook Xiaomi into fourth place.