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iPhone shipments took a big hit in one of Apple’s most important markets

Published Dec 12th, 2019 2:47PM EST
iPhone shipments
Image: Alex Tai/SOPA Images/Shutterstock

Here’s the thing about how important of a market China is to Apple when it comes to iPhone sales. According to data prepared by Bloomberg, 55% of Apple’s revenue this year has been attributable to the iPhone. Interestingly, over the same period, almost 20% of the company’s revenue has been derived from the greater China region alone — and so when an analyst tells his clients that iPhone shipments are dropping precipitously in the region, needless to say, it generates headlines.

That’s what happened today, in fact, with a report from Credit Suisse analyst Matthew Cabral explaining that iPhone shipments in China fell a little more than 35% year-over-year last month, a “sustained softness” that Credit Suisse has decided is an “incremental concern.” Indeed, per Bloomberg News, the November drop “marks the second straight double-digit decline” of iPhone shipments in the massive Chinese market.

This follows another drop of iPhone shipments in China during the second quarter, when market research firm Canalys pointed to a 14% decline in shipments compared to the year-earlier period. Nevertheless, analysts had predicted solid performance ahead of the iPhone 11 launch in China, with some models in the new lineup generating wait times of a couple of weeks at launch. The top Apple insider in the world — TF International Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo — had even predicted in September that demand in China for the new iPhone models would surpass expectations.

It should be stressed that iPhone shipments don’t line up neatly for a 1-to-1 correlation with iPhone sales, since there’s obviously a delay between the one and the other. Indeed, Credit Suisse itself conceded that shipment data is inherently “volatile” but that iPhone shipments in China have been dropping for two months — while the smartphone market in the country as a whole is up a little less than a percentage point.

Investors took notice of this news, because Apple’s stock was down almost 2% in early trading on Thursday.

Andy Meek Trending News Editor

Andy Meek is a reporter based in Memphis who has covered media, entertainment, and culture for over 20 years. His work has appeared in outlets including The Guardian, Forbes, and The Financial Times, and he’s written for BGR since 2015. Andy's coverage includes technology and entertainment, and he has a particular interest in all things streaming.

Over the years, he’s interviewed legendary figures in entertainment and tech that range from Stan Lee to John McAfee, Peter Thiel, and Reed Hastings.