By Michelle Toh, CNN Business
Apple has once again become the top-selling smartphone brand in top market China, along with the rest of the world.
That’s according to findings from two separate research reports, which come just before the tech giant is set to release its earnings for the most recent quarter on Thursday.
A report by Counterpoint Research, published Wednesday, said Apple reached its “highest ever” market share in China in the three months to December. This is the first time in six years that the iPhone maker has hit the top spot in the country.
Apple’s market share in China reached 23% in the last quarter of 2021, compared with 16% the same period the previous year. This surge came as total smartphone sales in China fell 9% year-on-year, according to Counterpoint.
Apple overtook the Chinese smartphone maker, Vivo, which slipped 6%, researchers said.
The “unprecedented” performance in China has helped Apple reclaim its position as the global market leader, according to a separate report published last week by Canalys, which did not break out its own measure of China sales data.
The research firm says that the US behemoth beat out Samsung during the crucial holiday season, with each company’s worldwide share at 22% and 20%, respectively.
“Apple is back at the top of the smartphone market after three quarters, driven by a stellar performance from the iPhone 13,” Canalys analyst Sanyam Chaurasia wrote in the report.
“Apple saw unprecedented iPhone performance in mainland China, with aggressive pricing for its flagship devices keeping the value proposition strong.”
But Apple enjoyed a meteoric rise last quarter, as it quickly “rose to first place in China right after the iPhone 13 was released,” according to Counterpoint Research analyst Mengmeng Zhang.
“Furthermore, Huawei, Apple’s main competitor in the premium market, faced declining sales due to the ongoing US sanctions,” she added. American restrictions have stifled the Chinese manufacturer’s ability to obtain critical components for its devices.
However, Apple still ranked third in China overall for the full year of 2021, according to Counterpoint. Vivo and Oppo came in first and second, respectively, each clinching about a fifth of the market.
Competition is heating up, with Samsung gearing up for a big smartphone launch next month.
On Wednesday, the South Korean giant sent out invitations for its signature Galaxy Unpacked event on February 9, teasing a new Galaxy S device. That traditionally helps give the company a boost, too.
Samsung reported solid earnings of its own in Seoul on Thursday, with a 53% jump in operating profit for the fourth quarter, compared with that of the previous year.
Sales in its semiconductor unit shone, climbing 43% year-on-year to more than 26 trillion Korean won (approximately $21.6 billion).
Meanwhile, Apple will report earnings Thursday after market close.
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