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Apple's struggles continue in China as Huawei retains crown

iPhone 8 has done little to lift sales

Apple released the top-of-the-line iPhone X at this Apple store in Guangzhou Friday.

GUANGZHOU -- Huawei Technologies retained the crown in the Chinese smartphone market in the July-September quarter while Apple failed to stage a comeback to climb out of the fifth spot.

Shenzhen-based Huawei, which has been the top seller since January this year, saw its quarterly shipments soar 23.4% on the year to 22.3 million units, but its market share shrank to 19.4%.

Apple's iPhone shipments increased 7.3% to 8.8 million units, tepid growth attributed to the iPhone 8's lackluster performance.

Chinese companies also occupied the second and third slots. No. 2 Oppo shipped 21.6 million units for the quarter, up only 7.5% on the year. No. 3 player Vivo shipped 18.9 million units, down 1.8%.

Going forward, all eyes will be on the top-of-the line iPhone X, released just Friday, and how much of a spark it generates for Apple. Yet a significant recovery may be elusive, with some pointing to distribution problems. A clerk at an Apple store in Guangzhou says it would take roughly five weeks to get an iPhone X if the handset is ordered now.

The Chinese smartphone market, which accounts for roughly 30% of the global market, shrank 1% in the July-September period while the global market expanded 2.7%. The market in China looks to have reached a saturation point, with many manufacturers holding surplus inventories, and many observers saying the market looks likely to remain sluggish.

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