Oppo moves to number 1 spot in Chinese smartphone market

Commenting on the results, Research Director, James Yan, highlighted, “The final quarter of the year was marked with series of flagship upgrades from key brands such as Apple, Oppo, Huawei, Xiaomi which catalyzed the smartphone demand in China, healthier than last year. Chinese e-commerce players such as Alibaba also also helped drive the momentum with 11.11 sale during the quarter which broke all the records compared to last year.

Only five brands registered healthy growth during the full year 2016. Oppo, Huawei, vivo, Meizu and Gionee drove the majority of the volume, capturing a combined 58% of the total Chinese smartphone market in 2016. Demand for rest of the brands declined, especially last year’s star performers Xiaomi and Apple with lower-than-expectd demand for their smartphones during the year.”

Exhibit 1: % Smartphone Shipment Annual Growth for Full Year 2016 vs 2015

Source: Counterpoint Research Market Monitor Q4 2016

Mr. Yan also noted, “The Chinese smartphone market saw a continuous rise in shipments as OEMs also began to fill channels ahead of the Chinese New Year season. In terms of features, key focus remained on proliferation of smartphones with fingerprint sensors, 4G+/VoLTE ready, fast-charging, OLED displays, battery. adoption of dual-rear-cameras and higher megapixel front-camera for selfies.”

Exhibit 2: % OEM Smartphone Shipment Share in Q4 2016 and 2016


Source: Counterpoint Research Market Monitor Q4 2016

Commenting on the vendor performance, Associate Director Tarun Pathak, noted, “Huawei was the leading vendor for the full year with strong demand not only for its affordable Honor branded smartphones but also healthy demand for flagship P and Mate series. Huawei has gained a foothold in the premium market with the successful release of P9 and Mate 8 and will continue to put more emphasis in the premium market going forward challenging Apple. In 2017, we expect Huawei to bear the fruit of its offline channel expansion strategy started in late 2015 to cover 1,000 provinces by the end of the year.

Oppo & vivo were the fastest growing brand and since June 2016 we have seen phenomenal growth for both the brands owing to strong omnipresent distribution channels from tier-1 to tier-4 cities across China, aggressive ATL and BTL marketing, effective retail-level promotions for both trade and consumers and effective positioning with focus on key features such as camera, battery life and audio within their smartphones. Though, Oppo has been leading the quarterly rankings ahead of rival Huawei in the second half of 2016.

2017 will be an exciting year and will be a close race between these top three brands which together controls almost half of the Chinese smartphone market as they try to out-innovate and out-market each other.”

Adding further on the brands which failed to grow, Research Analyst MengMeng Zhang, highlighted, “Xiaomi, the most talked about vendor last year, slipped to fourth spot during the year as the demand for its smartphones declined 22% annually. The key reason for this decline was its rivals racing ahead with key features, innovation, bigger marketing budgets and wider online and offline distribution channel during the year.

Thus, most of the demand for Xiaomi remained across its cheaper sub US$150 Redmi series models than any of the halo flagship devices. Furthermore, Xiaomi’s online sales model has been hitting a ceiling. Thus, Xiaomi is looking to expand its offline presence by opening more than 200 Mi Home Stores in 2017 on top of the 54 Mi Home Stores currently. However, we believe that this pace will not be of much help in boosting Xiaomi’s offline presence in 2017.

Whereas, Apple with slowing traction for its flagship iPhone 6S during the year saw its double digit negative growth being somewhat offset by relatively healthy demand for the newer flagship iPhone 7 series in Q4 2016. However, Apple still remains in a vulnerable position and there is higher expectation already with the next year flagship which is rumored to be substantial upgrade from both design and components perspective.”

Exhibit 3: Best-Selling Smartphone Models Share in 2016

RankingBest-Selling Models in 2016% Market Share*
1OPPO R94%
2Apple iPhone 6S2%
3Huawei HONOR Joy 5S2%
4OPPO A332%
5MI Redmi Note 32%
6LeEco Le22%
7vivo Y512%
8Apple iPhone 6S Plus1%
9vivo X71%
10Huawei Mate81%
11OPPO R9 Plus1%
12Huawei P91%
13MI Redmi 3S1%
14MI Redmi 31%
15OPPO A591%
16Apple iPhone 71%
17MI 51%
18OPPO A371%
19Meizu Blue Note 31%
20Apple iPhone 7 Plus1%

Source: Counterpoint Research Model Sales Tracker (*rounded)

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