Chinese brands will be busily reducing their component inventories in the second quarter as their total production volume for first quarter fell 26% versus prior quarter
China’s smartphone market in the first quarter was affected by weak demand and uncertainties surrounding the subsidy plans offered by domestic telecom companies. Major Chinese brands lowered their production volume targets and reduced component purchasing during the period as there were additional one to two weeks of inventories for their smartphone products (the whole device).
Going into the second quarter, Chinese brands will be releasing their latest flagship smartphones and replacing older products with this year’s lineups. Chinese brands also recognize that the market is being influenced by the arrival of the next iPhones, so they are going to continue to reduce their component inventories as to prepare for further uncertainties in shipments and sales.
Huawei remained the leader among Chinese vendors and the third largest brand worldwide in the first quarter, even though its production volume declined by about 22% compared with the fourth quarter of 2016.
TrendForce expects Huawei to return to growth in the second quarter as the brand’s high-end series P10, which features dual-lens camera from Leica, will be officially entering the market. Huawei’s second-quarter production volume is estimated to expand by 16% compared with the first quarter and reach close to Apple’s iPhone volume figure for the same period.
OPPO and Vivo were respectively at the second and third place in the Chinese vendor ranking in the first quarter. In terms of production volume, both brands registered a decline from the fourth quarter of around 30%. TrendForce expects OPPO and Vivo to make a recovery as they continue to develop overseas markets and promote affordable premium devices. For the second quarter, two vendors will increase their respective production volumes by 20~30% over the prior three-month period.
Xiaomi saw no sequential growth in its production volume for the first quarter, though the figure did represent a modest year-on-year growth of 12%. In contrast, Huawei’s, OPPO’s and Vivo’s year-on-year growth rates for the first quarter were respectively 30% and over. According to TrendForce’s estimate, Xiaomi’s second-quarter volume may be more than 10% higher than the prior quarter as the brand rolls out the refresh for its Mi Note series.
Without new products in the offering, Lenovo’s smartphone production volume fell by nearly 30% between last year’s fourth quarter and this year’s first quarter. The first-quarter result also represents a year-on-year drop of almost 20%. Lenovo’s smartphone market share is thus on a decline. TrendForce projects that Lenovo will post single-digit growth in production in the second quarter.
TrendForce points out that Chinese smartphone makers in general will be able to raise their production volumes again in the second quarter as they put their latest flagship devices on the market. However, their home market China has reached a growth plateau. In addition to this, the 10th anniversary iPhone devices are generating a lot of interests and influencing consumer demand.
Therefore, Chinese brands will have limited room for growth in the future. Those among them that have not establish footholds in overseas markets will be in an especially difficult position.