Apple Inc.'s latest offering, the iPhone 15, has encountered a challenging market in China, with sales figures not living up to the company's expectations. According to multiple analyses, the iPhone 15's sales in China have significantly lagged behind its predecessor, the iPhone 14.

Counterpoint Research, a market tracker, provided previously undisclosed figures to Bloomberg News, indicating a 4.5% decline in iPhone 15 sales during the first 17 days post-release compared to the iPhone 14. Jefferies analysts, led by Edison Lee, have painted an even grimmer picture, suggesting that the iPhone 15 sales might have plummeted by a double-digit percentage from its predecessor. This decline comes after Huawei Technologies Co. managed to outpace Apple in overall sales, thanks to the successful launch of its Mate 60 Pro.

The Mate 60 Pro's launch is particularly noteworthy as it is celebrated as a significant achievement over US sanctions, given its advanced processor manufactured in China. This success story for Huawei comes at a time when Apple is grappling with one of the weakest smartphone demands in a decade and backlash from overheating models. The iPhone 15's launch in China also coincided with a government directive expanding a ban on iPhone use to government agencies and state companies, highlighting Apple's mounting challenges in the region.

However, it's not all gloom for Apple. Counterpoint emphasized that in the US, the iPhone 15 likely experienced a double-digit rise in sales over 2022 during its initial nine days of availability. Jeff Fieldhack, Counterpoint's research director, commented, "The US is hot right now with back-to-back stellar weekends for the new iPhone. It's a positive sign from the biggest iPhone market in the world. So definitely takes some of the sting off the China numbers."

Despite the initial challenges in China, the long-term impact remains to be seen. Some analysts believe that Huawei's increasing prominence might challenge Apple's dominance in the high-end market segment. Counterpoint projects that Huawei could sell between 5 to 6 million units of the Mate 60 Pro this year alone, with potential double-digit sales in 2024. Jefferies' recent note also highlighted that Huawei has now surpassed Apple to claim the top spot in the Chinese market.

The current trend suggests a potential shift in market dynamics, with Jefferies analysts noting, "The trend suggests iPhone would lose to Huawei in 2024. We believe weak demand in China would eventually lead to lower-than-expected global shipments of iPhone."