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Chinese Retailers Discount iPhones as Sales Volume Declines

As the Lunar New Year approaches, major online retailers in China are offering significant discounts on iPhone models.

Alibaba’s Tmall and JD.com are among them. Apple, facing tough competition from domestic brands like Huawei, is also joining the discount trend, Nikkei Asia reported Thursday (Jan. 18).

These moves come as iPhone sales in China have experienced a decline, with the Apple device now ranking third in market share, according to the report.

In response to this challenging market landscape, discounts are being used as a strategy to attract customers and boost sales, the report said.

Alibaba’s Tmall has launched a promotion that offers discounts of up to 1,000 yuan (about $140) on select iPhone models, per the report. The promotion started on Wednesday (Jan. 17) and will run until Jan. 31.

JD.com is also offering discounts during the same period, with the latest iPhone 15 starting at 4,949 yuan (about $695), a discount of 1,050 yuan (about $147), according to the report.

Apple announced that it would be discounting iPhones by up to 500 yuan (about $70) from Thursday (Jan. 18) to Sunday (Jan. 21) at physical stores and on its website in China, the report said.

The Chinese smartphone market has become highly competitive, with local brands like Huawei gaining significant market share, per the report.

iPhone shipments in China were down 4% year over year for the July-September 2023 period, the report said, citing data from research firm IDC. Furthermore, Chinese media reports suggest that iPhone sales in the first week of 2024 were down about 30% compared to the previous year.

Apple announced its three-day sale on its latest iPhones on its Chinese website Monday (Jan. 15). The company’s move to offer discounts on its latest smartphone models is a rare one, Bloomberg News reported at the time.

About a week earlier, on Jan. 8, Reuters reported that sales of the iPhone in China fell by 30% for the first week of the year. Apple will face additional pressure from rivals throughout 2024, and its shipment volumes are expected to continue dropping by double digits during the year, the report said, citing Jefferies analysts.