Apple investors have been anxious about sales in China since the company last month lowered guidance for the quarter due to economic pressures in the region and weak iPhone sales.
The decline meant Apple's marketshare fell from 12.9 percent a year earlier to 11.5 percent.
"The imbalance between the increasingly severe domestic market environment and Apple's high product unit price has led to the declines of iPhone shipments in Chinese market", IDC said in the Chinese-language research report shared on its official WeChat account. While Apple's share of the Middle Kingdom's smartphone dropped, sales of devices from rival Huawei Technologies Co.
Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook pointed to China as a significant factor in a rare cut in the company's quarterly sales forecast last month.
Oppo and Vivo are also ahead of Apple thanks to minor increases, while Xiaomi saw shipments fall by 35 per cent. Xiaomi, which is expanding into Europe, now has 10 per cent of the market. To compensate for the loss, Apple is trying to replace phone sales with revenue from services.More news: Paul Scholes Named Oldham Athletic Manager
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In recent times, many Chinese smartphone makers are adopting a two-brand strategy to cater to different customer segments. "Apple didn't seem to change its Chinese marketing plans".
Nobody told Huawei about the smartphone slump. That's despite grappling with an unusually turbulent few months during which its finance chief was arrested on allegations of bank fraud, and the United States marshalled its allies to try and block the company from selling next-generation networking gear.
Apple wasn't alone is losing market share in China, however. Its shipments plummeted nearly 35% because of inventory corrections and an internal restructuring, IDC said.
The shipment numbers for the quarter ending December 2018 are out, and things don't look good for Apple and Xiaomi.
Lei Jun, Xiaomi's billionaire co-founder, is among those who expect the advent of 5G to energise demand. "We have a long way to go before they become mainstream".