Apple had better hope that the new iPhones it plans to unveil this week strike a chord with consumers in China.
According to the latest numbers from Kantar Worldpanel ComTech, market share of iOS for what the firm defines as “urban China” declined 4.4 percent to 14.3 percent for the three months ending in July.
At the same time, Android’s market share rose 5.6 percent to 85 percent — an all-time high for Google’s mobile OS, according to Kantar. But there is a silver lining for Apple, says Kantar.
“However, 33 percent of the current iOS installed base owns an iPhone 6 or 6 Plus, representing a large opportunity for iOS to return to growth in the coming months as the latest iPhone is released and consumers contemplate the upgrade,” said Tamsin Timpson, strategic insight director at Kantar Worldpanel ComTech Asia.
That’s an optimistic take, considering that, in general, people are holding onto their phones for longer stretches, and the iPhones expected this week are not reportedly offering many radical new features. Sill, Apple has to hope at least some buyers are hungry to upgrade if it’s going to slow its steep decline in the Chinese market.
Apple does remain third in the market in terms of handset sales, behind Huawei, which has 27.6 percent market share, and Xiaomi, which grabbed 18.5 percent. Kantar didn’t include a market share number for Samsung.
Still, the growing number of low-cost Android competitors in China is making it tough on Apple in what has become one of its most critical markets.
Elsewhere, the news for iOS was better. In the United States, iOS had 31.3 percent of smartphone sales, up 1.2 percent from the same three months one year ago. Android slipped 0.6 percent to 65 percent.
Interesting to note: Kantar says the iPhone 6s is the number one selling smartphone in the U.S., with 11 percent market share. But the iPhone 6, which Apple is expected to discontinue selling after the new batch of phones is released, still claims 4.1 percent of all U.S. smartphone sales.