China's smartphone market declined 4.9 percent in 2017 and 15.7 percent year over year (YoY) for Q4 2017, according to data from IDC's Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker.
The research firm said that a general slowdown in the market was due to Chinese smartphone companies making only minor upgrades to new products, which weren't enough to incite new purchases.
The top smartphone maker by Chinese sales for the year was Huawei, with shipments of 90.9 million and a market share of 20.4 percent, up from 16.4 percent in 2016; second-placed Oppo had a market share of 18.1 percent, up from 16.8 percent in 2016; while third-placed Vivo had a market share of 15.4 percent, up from 14.8 percent in 2016.
Xiaomi and Apple rounded out the top five, with market shares for the year of 12.4 percent and 9.3 percent, respectively. The top five collectively grew their market share to 75.6 percent for the year, up from 66.5 percent in 2016. Once again, Samsung was out of the top five.
"The smaller players continued to suffer as the top five players grew their market share," said Tay Xiaohan, research manager of ICD Asia-Pacific Client Devices team. "A key space to look out for in the coming year would be how the top smartphone companies seek to tickle the fancy of consumers through their $200+ products to drive consumer upgrades."
For the fourth quarter of 2017, Huawei topped Chinese sales, with shipments of 24.3 million and a market share for the quarter of 21.3 percent, up from 16.8 percent in Q4 2016. Huawei's market share grew YoY due to strong shipments of its Honor and Huawei-branded phones under $200; sales of Honor-branded phones were also helped by last year's Singles' Day sale.
In the $600+ premium segment, Huawei's share remains low, IDC said; however, it has gone from making up 2 percent of sales in this segment in Q4 2016 to 8 percent in Q4 2017, meaning it could be a future competitor to Apple for high-end devices.
The reduction in the number of low-range offerings from BBK Electronics-owned Vivo and Oppo contributed to their YoY decline in shipments for the fourth quarter, IDC added. However, in terms of revenue, Oppo ranked second only to Apple.
This time a year ago, Oppo topped China's yearly smartphone sales chart for the first time, with YoY growth of 122.2 percent in the country.
Global smartphone sales dipped dramatically in the last three months of the year and were at best flat for the whole of 2017, IDC revealed last week.
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Even with a good performance from Apple's newest devices, smartphone sales dropped dramatically in the last three months of 2017.
Phablets, which have screens between 5.5 and 7 inches, are projected to outpace total market growth to reach one billion shipped units through 2021.
In July, Huawei became the world's second biggest smartphone vendor by marketshare.
According to IDC, the upcoming iPhone 8 launch will drive iPhone shipments up by 9.1 percent in 2018.
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