Apple sold a lot of iPhones in the fourth quarter of 2018, but there is no denying the company would have been happier had it sold more.
As a result of those weak sales, Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook, discussed some of the reasons behind the slow upgrades. Price did play a part in that. Earlier in February we reported that price cuts in China did indeed boost sales in that region. But that only came after the 20% drop in shipment numbers back in the fourth quarter.
According to research firm Canalys, the iPhone is still holding a demanding lead in the Japanese smartphone market. Within the December quarter of last year, Apple managed to hold a 56.0% share of the smartphone market. In second place? Sharp — and that company managed to rake in only 9.8 percent of the smartphone market in Japan for the same stretch of time. Sony (8.6%), Samsung (6.8%), and Kyocera (6.2%) round out the top 5.
Samsung was the only company to see a boost in sales in the fourth quarter of 2018, though. According to the research firm, Samsung saw a jump of 10.1 percent in the market. That’s compared to the 10.5 percent drop that Apple saw in the December quarter. Sony saw the biggest drop, however, at just over 17 percent.
Back in November we reported that Apple lowered the price of the iPhone XR in a big way in Japan, all in an effort to stimulate sales. Turns out that helped. According to Canalys, the cheaper iPhone model accounted for 39.8 percent of the fourth quarter shipments. Meanwhile, the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max didn’t do too well, shipping only 1.4 million units. That’s even worse than the iPhone X did at its initial launch in the country.
So, Apple saw a big hit in Japan to its iPhone sales, and yet the company’s lead is pretty safe (for the time being). A price change is a quick fix, but it will be interesting to see how the company makes bigger changes to keep things rolling in the right direction.