SHANGHAI: Shipments of mobile phones to China fell 6 percent in March compared with the same year-earlier month, official figures showed yesterday, as slowing economic growth took a toll on the sector.
The shipments dropped to 28.4 million units in March from 30.2 million units in March 2018, the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology (CAICT) said.
March’s 6 percent slide follows four consecutive months of double-digit declines. The slowdown points to continued pressure on the likes of Apple Inc, which endured a steep drop in China sales in late 2018, and its domestic smartphone rivals.
The number of new devices launched by phone makers also fell, according to CAICT. A total of 52 new handsets hit the market in the month, down 35 percent from a year earlier.
Last year was an anaemic one for the world’s largest mobile phone market, with total shipments falling 15.5 percent, CAICT data shows. The weakness continued in 2019 – February shipments totalled 14.5 million units, the lowest since February 2013 and a 19.9 percent decrease from a year earlier.
Industry analysts generally attribute the weak performance to a slowdown in economic growth, longer upgrade cycles, and a lull in feature innovation as carriers focus on preparations for the launch 5G connectivity on their networks.
To cope with the slowdown, Chinese domestic brands have been raising prices and moving upmarket, hoping to boost margins. In 2018, Huawei Technologies Co Ltd, Oppo, and Vivo each captured a bigger share of the $500-to-$800 price range of phones, a segment once dominated by Apple. –Reuters