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Apple Discounts Its Way to Delivering iPhone Sales in China

Apple building

Apple’s iPhone sales in China reportedly rebounded after falling earlier this year.

Shipments of foreign-branded phones in the country reached 5.028 million in May, up from 3.603 million a year earlier, Reuters reported Friday (June 28), citing data from the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology.

Because Apple is the dominant foreign brand in China, the increase can likely be attributed to gains made by the company, according to the report.

Apple’s sales fell 37% during the first two months of 2023 amid pressure from other makers of high-end smartphones, including China’s Huawei, the report said. However, they saw a 52% jump in April and a 40% increase in May.

The report attributed the turnaround in May in part to aggressive discounts offered by Apple on its official Tmall site in China.

Global Research Firm Counterpoint Technology Market Research said in a Tuesday (June 25) press release that Apple’s sales in China benefited from stronger promotions and an extra week of sale prices compared to 2023, due to a longer-than-usual 618 shopping festival in the country. This year’s 618 festival ran from May 20 to June 20. In 2023, the 618 period was from May 31 to June 18.

“The brand offered the biggest-ever discounts, reaching up to RMB 2,350 (about $326) during the period to entice consumers, especially given the strong competition from Huawei in the premium segment,” the release said.

In May, market intelligence provider International Data Corp. (IDC) said that while worldwide smartphone shipments are forecast to grow 4% year over year in 2024, Apple’s shipments are expected to grow 0.7%.

IDC attributed Apple’s softer growth to increasing competition in China, according to a May 30 press release.

“However, if Apple makes a strong move around its AI strategy for iPhones, demonstrating clear use cases, it could accelerate the growth for Apple and revamp demand for iPhones, especially in China,” Nabila Popal, research director with IDC’s Worldwide Tracker team, said in the release.

It was reported in May that Apple — along with resellers in China — was slashing prices since the beginning of 2024, with Apple hoping to gain ground after suffering huge dips in sales as it competed in the region.